Announcing HCP Consul Plus

HCP Consul Plus allows users to federate Consul clusters across multiple regions for improved redundancy and resiliency of applications.

HashiCorp Cloud Platform (HCP) is the platform we created to host our products as managed services. HCP makes it easy to launch and run services like HashiCorp Consul and Vault, which can be connected to your infrastructure resources. HCP is currently available on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Earlier this year, we debuted our HCP Consul Standard offering, a production-ready Consul deployment for running applications on AWS in a single region. However, many organizations require a more robust architecture to support production-ready applications. Consul’s federation capabilities makes it easy for users to support multiple applications running in multiple regions. Today, we are pleased to announce that functionality is coming to HCP Consul as a part of our new Plus offering.

»The Importance of Federation

In order to understand the benefit of HCP Consul Plus, let’s review what federation is and how it benefits users. Federation is the ability to connect and share information between Consul servers that reside and operate in their own independent datacenters. The goal of federation is to make sure Consul servers running in different regions are communicating and interacting while they operate individually. Federation is important because it simplifies communication between different datacenters, which reduces operational burden and lowers risk by reducing the number of ingress/egress points through a single gateway. Using federation, enterprises can solve three critical challenges for running efficiently in the cloud:

  1. Recovery and resiliency
  2. Supporting end users across regions
  3. Overlapping IP ranges

»1. Recovery and Resiliency

When deploying production applications within a single region, the main concern organizations face is: what happens if that particular region suffers an outage. When outages occur,organizations find themselves scrambling to route traffic to a new datacenter.

To counter this problem, federation on HCP protects organizations against a single cluster being overwhelmed by requests, which could create even more service downtime due to an outage. As a part of this release, we are enabling federation to work on both our Standard offering, for clusters running a single region, and our new Plus offering for multi-region deployments. Additionally, organizations can rest assured that their Consul servers are backed by HashiCorp site reliability engineers, ensuring their services are reachable and supported.

»2. Support End Users Across Regions

Single-region deployments work well for smaller organizations that have fewer users interacting with their services. But as organizations grow to support additional users residing outside their primary region, issues like locality and latency can become a concern. One solution to this problem is to set up datacenters in every region where users require access to certain services. This can become overwhelming and difficult to manage as the number of datacenters increase and cross-region communication becomes more important.

Federation helps solve this problem by connecting these datacenters across multiple regions via WAN connections, but still allowing them to operate independently. One of the major benefits of HCP, is that we handle the federation process for users, making it easier to get started.

»3. Overlapping IP Ranges

In addition to building resilient applications, trying to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters, Nomad clusters, or virtual machines in a single region is difficult once you reach a certain scale. If all Consul clusters are running on a single network, they eventually will run into IP addresses that conflict with each other. This can reduce the benefits provided by a service mesh, as the mesh can no longer distinguish which service to route traffic to when there are two conflicting destinations.

By using federation, we can connect to multiple virtual private clouds running within that particular region without having to be concerned with matching CIDR blocks. Since the clusters are utilizing their own Consul servers and unique datacenter names, traffic can be routed to specific services based on both the service name and a specified datacenter using Consul L7 traffic-management features. This unlocks the ability for organizations to scale exponentially without having to worry about potential network conflicts.

»Next Steps For HCP Consul

HCP Consul Plus is now available for all users. Federation is now available for multi-region deployments, via the Plus offering, and for single-region deployments, via the Standard offering. An important note, federation cannot be done between Plus and Standard clusters. Multi-region federation is also available for Development clusters, but only for testing purposes and should not be used in production.

Federation allows users to plan for recovery and resiliency, support end users across different regions, and avoid the trap of overlapping IP ranges. Our goal is to help users build more resilience and address the need for locality-aware application deployments.

To get started, sign up for an HCP account today. As an added bonus, new users get a $50 credit to help get started. For more information about HCP Consul, please visit our documentation.

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