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Explore Kuma with the Kubernetes demo app

To start learning how Kuma works, you can download and run a simple demo application that consists of two services:

  • demo-app: web application that lets you increment a numeric counter
  • redis: data store for the counter

This guide also introduces some of the tools Kuma provides to help you control and monitor traffic, track resource status, and more.

The demo-app service listens on port 5000. When it starts, it expects to find a zone key in Redis that specifies the name of the datacenter (or cluster) where the Redis instance is running. This name is displayed in the browser.

The zone key is purely static and arbitrary. Different zone values for different Redis instances let you keep track of which Redis instance stores the counter if you manage routes across different zones, clusters, and clouds.


Set up and run

Two different YAML files are available:

  • demo.yaml installs the basic resources
  • demo-v2.yaml installs the frontend service with different colors. This lets you more clearly view routing across multiple versions, for example.
  • gateway.yaml installs a builtin gateway
  1. Install resources in a kuma-demo namespace:

    kubectl apply -f demo.yaml
  2. Port forward the service to the namespace on port 5000:

    kubectl port-forward svc/demo-app -n kuma-demo 5000:5000
  3. In a browser, go to and increment the counter.

Explore the mesh

The demo app includes the label enabled on the kuma-demo namespace. This means that Kuma already knows that it needs to automatically inject a sidecar proxy to every Kubernetes deployment in the default Mesh resource:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
  name: kuma-demo
  labels: enabled

You can view the sidecar proxies that are connected to the Kuma control plane:

Kuma ships with a read-only GUI that you can use to retrieve Kuma resources. By default the GUI listens on the API port and defaults to :5681/gui.

To access Kuma we need to first port-forward the API service with:

kubectl port-forward svc/kuma-control-plane -n kuma-system 5681:5681

And then navigate to to see the GUI.

Enable Mutual TLS and Traffic Permissions

By default, the network is unsecure and not encrypted. We can change this with Kuma by enabling the Mutual TLS policy to provision a dynamic Certificate Authority (CA) on the default Mesh resource that will automatically assign TLS certificates to our services (more specifically to the injected dataplane proxies running alongside the services).

We can enable Mutual TLS with a builtin CA backend by executing:

echo "apiVersion:
kind: Mesh
  name: default
    enabledBackend: ca-1
    - name: ca-1
      type: builtin" | kubectl apply -f -

Once Mutual TLS has been enabled, Kuma will not allow traffic to flow freely across our services unless we explicitly have a Traffic Permission policy that describes what services can be consumed by other services. By default, a very permissive traffic permission is created.

For the sake of this demo we will delete it:

kubectl delete trafficpermission allow-all-default

You can try to make requests to the demo application at and you will notice that they will not work.

Now let’s add back the default traffic permission:

echo "apiVersion:
kind: TrafficPermission
mesh: default
  name: allow-all-default
    - match: '*'
    - match: '*'" | kubectl apply -f -

By doing so every request we now make on our demo application at is not only working again, but it is automatically encrypted and secure.

As usual, you can visualize the Mutual TLS configuration and the Traffic Permission policies we have just applied via the GUI, the HTTP API or kumactl.

Builtin gateways

The resources for creating a builtin gateway is included with kuma-counter-demo in gateway.yaml as well:

  • a MeshGateway that sets up the listeners
  • a MeshGatewayRoute that directs requests to the demo app
  • a MeshGatewayInstance that manages and deploys proxies to serve gateway traffic

Learn more about builtin gateways in the dedicated gateway docs.

Explore Observability features

With kumactl you can quickly install all observability components (metrics, logs, tracing) with a single command:

kumactl install observability | kubectl apply -f -

Once that is installed you can use different policies to configure each component.

Traffic Metrics

One of the most important policies that Kuma provides out of the box is Traffic Metrics.

With Traffic Metrics we can leverage Prometheus and Grafana to provide powerful dashboards that visualize the overall traffic activity of our application and the status of the service mesh.

We can now go ahead and enable metrics on our Mesh object by executing:

echo "apiVersion:
kind: Mesh
  name: default
    enabledBackend: ca-1
    - name: ca-1
      type: builtin
    enabledBackend: prometheus-1
    - name: prometheus-1
      type: prometheus" | kubectl apply -f -

This will enable the prometheus metrics backend on the default Mesh and automatically collect metrics for all of our traffic.

Increment the counter to generate traffic. Then you can expose the Grafana dashboard:

kubectl port-forward svc/grafana -n mesh-observability 3000:80

and access the dashboard at with default credentials for both the username (admin) and the password (admin).

Kuma automatically installs three dashboard that are ready to use:

  • Kuma Mesh: to visualize the status of the overall Mesh.
  • Kuma Dataplane: to visualize metrics for a single individual dataplane.
  • Kuma Service to Service: to visualize traffic metrics for our services.

You can now explore the dashboards and see the metrics being populated over time.

Traffic logs and trace

You can check out specific instructions on Traffic Log and Traffic Trace policies in separate documents.

Next steps

  • Explore the Policies available to govern and orchestrate your service traffic.
  • Read the full documentation to learn about all the capabilities of Kuma.
  • Chat with us at the official Kuma Slack for questions or feedback.