Architecture of a Kubernetes cluster

At the hardware level, a Kubernetes cluster is composed of many nodes, which can be split into two types:

  • The master node, which hosts the Kubernetes Control Plane that controls and manages the whole Kubernetes system
  • Worker nodes that run the actual applications you deploy

components of k8s


The Control Plane is what controls the cluster and makes it function. It consists of multiple components that can run on a single master node or be split across multiple nodes and replicated to ensure high availability. These components are:

  • The Kubernetes API Server, which you and the other Control Plane components communicate with

  • The Scheduler schedules your apps

  • The Controller Manager, which performs cluster-level functions, such as replicating components, keeping track of worker nodes, handling node failures, and so on
  • etcd, a reliable distributed data store that persistently stores the cluster configuration.

The components of the Control Plane hold and control the state of the cluster, but they don’t run your applications. This is done by the (worker) nodes.


The worker nodes are the machines that run your containerized applications. The task of running, monitoring, and providing services to your applications is done by the following components:

  • Docker, rkt, or another container runtime, which runs your containers
  • The Kubelet, which talks to the API server and manages containers on its node
  • The Kubernetes Service Proxy (kube-proxy), which load-balances network traffic between application components

  1. From Kubernetes in Action