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Introducing Contrail Firewall


In Chapter 3 we introduced the Kubernetes network policy concept. We went through the YAML file definition in detail and created a network policy based on it. We’ve also mentioned that simply creating network policy objects won’t have any effect, unless the Kubernetes networking implementation supports it. Contrail, as a Kubernetes CNI, implements the Kubernetes networking and supports the Kubernetes network policy through Contrail firewall. That is the focus of this chapter - we’ll demonstrate how network policy works in the Contrail environment via Contrail firewall.

First let’s review some important concepts in Contrail.

Inter-VN Routing.

In Contrail, virtual networks are isolated by default. That means workloads in VN1 cannot communicate with workloads in another VN2. To allow inter-virtual network communications between VN1 to VN2, Contrail network policy is required. Contrail network policy can also provide security between two virtual networks by allowing or denying specified traffic.

Contrail Network Policy.

A Contrail network policy is used to permit inter-virtual network communication and to modify intra-virtual network traffic. It describes which traffic is permitted or not between virtual networks. By default, without a Contrail network policy, intra-virtual network communication is allowed, but inter-virtual network traffic is denied. When you create a network policy you must associate it with a virtual network for it to have any effect.


Don’t confuse Contrail network policy with Kubernetes network policy. They are two different security features and they work separately.

Security Group(SG).

A security group, often abbreviated as a SG, is a group of rules that allow a user to specify the type of traffic that is allowed or not allowed through a port. When a VM or pod is created in a virtual network, a SG can be associated with the VM when it is launched. Unlike Contrail network policy, which is configured globally and associated to the virtual networks, the SG is configured on the per-port basis and it will take effect on the specific vRouter flows that is associated with the VM port.

The Limitation of Contrail Network Policy and SG

In modern Contrail cloud environments, sometimes it is hard to use only the existing network policy and security group to achieve desired security goals. For example, in cloud environments, workloads may move from one server to another and so most likely the IP is often changing. Just relying on IP addresses to identify the endpoints to be protected is painful. Instead, users must leverage application level attributes to manipulate policies, so that the policies don’t need to be updated every time a workload moves and the associated network environment changes. Also, in production, a user might need to group workloads based on combinations of tags, which is hard to translate into the existing language of a network policy or SG.

Contrail Firewall Security Policy.

This chapter introduces another important feature: Contrail firewall security policy.

Contrail firewall security policy allows decoupling of routing from security policies,vand provides multidimension segmentation and policy portability, while significantly enhancing user visibility and analytics functions.

In order to implement the multi-dimension traffic segmentation, Contrail firewall introduces the concept of tags. Tags are key-value pairs associated with different entities in the deployment. Tags can be pre-defined or custom/user defined. Contrail tags are pretty much the same thing as Kubernetes labels. Both are used to identify objects and workloads. As you can see, this is similar to Kubernetes network policy design, and it is natural for Contrail to use its firewall security policy to implement Kubernetes network policy. In theory, Contrail network policy or SG can be extended to do the job, but the support of tags by Contrail firewall makes it so much simpler


Sometimes Contrail firewall security policy is referred to as Contrail Security, Contrail firewall, Contrail firewall security, or simply Contrail FW.