You are browsing documentation for a version of Kuma that is not the latest release.

Looking for even older versions? Learn more.

External Service

This policy allows services running inside the mesh to consume services that are not part of the mesh. The ExternalService resource allows you to declare specific external resources by name within the mesh, instead of implementing the default passthrough mode. Passthrough mode allows access to any non-mesh host by specifying its domain name or IP address, without the ability to apply any traffic policies. The ExternalService resource enables the same observability, security, and traffic manipulation for external traffic as for services entirely inside the mesh

When you enable this policy, you should also disable passthrough mode for the mesh and enable the data plane proxy builtin DNS name resolution.


A simple HTTPS external service can be defined:

kind: ExternalService
mesh: default
  name: httpbin
  tags: httpbin http
    tls: # optional
      enabled: true
      allowRenegotiation: false
      sni: # optional
      caCert: # one of inline, inlineString, secret
        inline: LS0tLS1CRUdJTiBDRVJUSUZJQ0FURS0tLS0t... # Base64 encoded cert
      clientCert: # one of inline, inlineString, secret
        secret: clientCert
      clientKey: # one of inline, inlineString, secret
        secret: clientKey

Then apply the configuration with kubectl apply -f [..].

Accessing the External Service

Consuming the defined service from within the mesh for both Kubernetes and Universal deployments (assuming transparent proxy) can be done:

  • With the .mesh naming of the service curl httpbin.mesh. With this approach, specify port 80.
  • With the real name and port, in this case curl This approach works only with the data plane proxy builtin DNS name resolution.

Although the external service is HTTPS, it’s consumed as plain HTTP. This is possible because when networking.tls.enabled is set to true then Envoy is responsible for originating and verifying TLS.

To consume the service using HTTPS, set the service protocol to tcp and networking.tls.enabled=false. This way application itself is responsible for originating and verifying TLS and Envoy is just passing the connection to a proper destination.

The first approach has an advantage that we can apply HTTP based policies, because Envoy is aware of HTTP protocol and can apply request modifications before the request is encrypted. Additionally, we can modify TLS certificates without restarting applications.

Available policy fields

  • tags the external service can include an arbitrary number of tags, where is mandatory. The special tag is also taken into account and supports the standard Kuma protocol values. It designates the specific protocol for the service.
  • ` networking` describes the networking configuration of the external service
    • address is the address where the external service can be reached.
    • tls is the section to configure the TLS originator when consuming the external service
      • enabled turns on and off the TLS origination.
      • allowRenegotiation turns on and off TLS renegotiation. It’s not recommended enabling this for security reasons. However, some servers require this setting to fetch client certificate after TLS handshake. TLS renegotiation is not available in TLS v1.3.
      • sni overrides the default Server Name Indication. Set this value to empty string to disable SNI.
      • caCert the CA certificate for the external service TLS verification
      • clientCert the client certificate for mTLS
      • clientKey the client key for mTLS

As with other services, avoid duplicating service names under with already existing ones. A good practice is to derive the tag value from the domain name or IP of the actual external service.

External Services and Locality Aware Load Balancing

There are might be scenarios when a particular external service should be accessible only from the particular zone. In order to make it work we should use tag for external service. When this tag is set and locality aware load balancing is enabled then the traffic from the zone will be redirected only to external services associated with the zone using tag.


type: ExternalService
mesh: default
name: httpbin-for-zone-1
tags: httpbin http zone-1
type: ExternalService
mesh: default
name: httpbin-for-zone-2
tags: httpbin http zone-2

In this example, when locality aware load balancing is enabled, if the service in zone-1 is trying to set connection with httpbin.mesh it will be redirected to Whereas the same request from zone-2 will be redirected to

External Services and ZoneEgress

In scenarios when traffic to external services needs to be sent through a unique set of hosts you will configure ZoneEgress.

For example when there is:

  • disabled passthrough mode
  • ZoneEgress deployed
  • ExternalService configuration that allows communicating with
    type: ExternalService
    mesh: default
    name: example
    tags: example tcp
      enabled: false

When application makes a request to, it will be first routed to ZoneEgress and then to You can completely block your instances to communicate to things outside the mesh by disabling passthrough mode. In this setup, applications will only be able to communicate with other applications in the mesh or external-services via the ZoneEgress.

Builtin Gateway support

Kuma Gateway fully supports external services. Note that mesh Dataplanes can be configured with the same tag as an external service resource. In this scenario, Kuma Gateway will prefer the ExternalService and not route any traffic to the Dataplanes. Note that before gateway becomes generally available this behaviour will change to be the same as for any other dataplanes.

Last Updated: 10/26/2022, 10:13:28 AM