Are you curious how eBPF is changing our monitoring of Kubernetes? Join us on a journey through the world of eBPF and learn the secret to unlocking a new era of efficient and effective Kubernetes monitoring. 

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Kubernetes monitoring can be a significant challenge that can overwhelm operators with data. This can create a struggle for users to obtain meaningful insights into their cluster's performance. 

But there's a solution to tackle this problem: eBPF. 

In this article, we'll look at what eBPF implies for Kubernetes monitoring and how it helps administrators with their problems.

Let's explore how eBPF can revolutionize the container orchestration industry. 

What is eBPF in Kubernetes?

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Extended Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF), or eBPF, is a cutting-edge technology integrated into Kubernetes to enhance monitoring and observability capabilities. 

eBPF effectively captures, analyses, and acts on network and system events to provide visibility into your Kubernetes cluster.

It functions as a strong tool to trace, profile, and monitor cluster-running applications, giving administrators a better understanding of their system's behavior.

Also Read: Top Kubernetes Dashboard Alternatives

How does eBPF work?

The main goal of eBPF is to extend the functionality of conventional kernel-based packet filtering. 

eBPF functions as a compact, secure, and potent virtual machine inside the kernel when it is used for Kubernetes monitoring. 

It enables you to introduce special programs, referred to as eBPF programs, at several crucial places along the kernel's execution path. 

System calls, network packets, and other kernel-level activity are captured and analyzed by these programs, which serve as hooks.

The brilliance of eBPF comes in its capacity to execute these programs in a sandboxed setting, guaranteeing that they cannot compromise the stability or security of the kernel.  This sandboxing is important because it allows eBPF to be dynamically loaded and unloaded. 

This gives administrators flexibility and allows them to respond to changing monitoring needs without jeopardizing the system's integrity.

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Benefits of Kubernetes eBPF

Let's quickly look at the top benefits of eBPF in Kubernetes.

Unparalleled Performance

Because eBPF functions at the kernel level, it has extraordinary speed and efficiency while capturing and processing data. 

With no impact on system performance, eBPF delivers real-time insights by avoiding the expense of context shifts.

Flexibility and Programmability

Administrators can create unique monitoring programs using eBPF that can be dynamically loaded and run in the kernel. 

This programmability enables real-time fine-tuning and adaptation of monitoring tactics to meet shifting needs.

Also Read: Differences between Grafana & Datadog

Safe and Secure

The sandboxed environment provided by eBPF ensures that its programs operate safely within the kernel, preventing any threats to the stability or security of the system. 

It is safe to experiment and customize because of this safety feature.

Deeper Observability

eBPF offers a deeper level of system observability by recording and examining events at the kernel level. 

It gives admins a thorough understanding of the behavior of their Kubernetes cluster by allowing them to track system calls, network traffic, and more.

Also Read: New Relic vs Grafana

Reduced Overhead

Context changes and data processing add a lot of overhead to traditional monitoring systems. By reducing this overhead, eBPF improves monitoring effectiveness and resource usage.

Real-time Troubleshooting

With eBPF's real-time features, administrators can immediately locate and fix performance issues, errors, and abnormalities. 

This feature makes quick troubleshooting possible, which leads to quicker problem resolution.

Also Read: Top 19 Monitoring & Testing Tools for Microservices

eBPF and K8s Container Monitoring

eBPF and Kubernetes container monitoring are great partnerships that substantially improve cluster observability and optimization.

eBPF's integration with Kubernetes enables kernel-level visibility into containerized applications

With real-time data capture and analysis, monitoring system calls, assessing resource utilization, and tracking system calls is simpler.

Kubernetes administrators gain from faster monitoring procedures and quick troubleshooting since eBPF offers a safe environment for experimenting with monitoring tactics.

Additionally, the vibrant eBPF community consistently creates new tools and libraries, guaranteeing that this technology is supported and advanced moving forward.

In conclusion, the seamless integration of eBPF with Kubernetes enables administrators to make data-driven decisions, enhancing observability and optimizing performance in containerized settings.

Also Read: Best Practices for Kubernetes Security, Namespaces, Resource Limits, & More

Use Cases of eBPF

Here are a few use cases of Kubernetes eBPF.

Container Security 

When implementing network security policies, eBPF emerges as a good security-focused tool. 

The system is protected from unauthorized access and potential threats through the administrators' ability to apply fine-grained controls on access at the kernel level. 

The eBPF protocol improves the overall security posture of Kubernetes clusters by filtering and monitoring network traffic.

Also Read: How to Setup & Use Prometheus Operator?


eBPF has a transformational effect on networking. 

With eBPF programs, administrators can modify packet headers, implement custom load-balancing algorithms, and develop networking solutions catering to particular use cases. 

Due to its flexibility, Kubernetes networks operate effectively and dependably.

Tracing and Profiling

eBPF is a great option in the field of performance analysis. Its capacity to trace and profile apps at the kernel level offers operators and developers good knowledge. 

Tracing enabled by eBPF enables a comprehensive examination of the application's behavior. This further facilitates the rapid identification and elimination of performance bottlenecks.

Monitoring and Observability

eBPF improves the observability and monitoring of Kubernetes clusters, enabling in-the-moment monitoring of crucial events. 

Administrators can track system calls, gather data, and examine resource usage to have a thorough picture of cluster performance.

This high-fidelity observability helps with capacity planning and preventative troubleshooting.

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When to Use & Not to Use eBPF?

eBPF Kubernetes definitely is a great tool, but when to use it & when to avoid using it?

When to Use eBPF?


eBPF's XDP mode is ideal for high-performance packet processing at the network driver level. XDP stands for eXpress Data Path. 

It enables effective filtering, forwarding, and load balancing by allowing packet processing early in the network stack. The solution of choice for packet handling needs to be eBPF XDP.

Connect-time Load Balancing

eBPF is well suited for building specialized and dynamic load-balancing algorithms because of its programmability. 

eBPF makes adjusting your load-balancing tactics simple when you need adaptive load distribution based on current conditions.


When real-time tracing and thorough observability are essential, eBPF provides unmatched insights. 

It is a superb option for enhancing the observability of your infrastructure because of its capacity to trace system calls, watch over network activity, and gather data.

Also Read: What is an Internal Developer Platform - IDP?

When Not to Use eBPF?

In this section, let's talk about scenarios where eBPF could be a good fit along with some cases where you might be better off with some alternative.

Application-Layer Policy Implementation

Because eBPF runs at the kernel level, it is less suitable for application-layer policy implementation. 

Other user-space technologies might suit activities requiring higher-level context and application-specific logic.

Building a Service Mesh Control Plane

eBPF's kernel-level programming may not best fit for service mesh control planes, which frequently contain complicated control logic and high-level abstractions. 

Think about utilizing different technologies that are more suited to control aircraft needs.

Packet-by-Packet Processing

Although eBPF excels in processing packets quickly, it might not be the ideal option for activities requiring a lot of packet-by-packet analysis. 

User-space processing or specialist hardware solutions may be more appropriate in these circumstances.

Also Read: Top 13 Docker Desktop & Docker Alternatives

Case Study: How Netflix Uses eBPF?

Netflix has developed an advanced system to gain deep insights into its cloud network infrastructure using cutting-edge eBPF technology. 

This technology allows them to monitor and analyze network traffic efficiently and at scale, providing valuable information about their services and applications.

Challenges Faced by Netflix

Netflix's vast and complex infrastructure comprises numerous microservices, AWS services, and Netflix-owned devices. This complexity presented some challenges.

  • Application Dependencies and Data Flows: With a growing number of microservices, it became challenging to understand how applications depend on each other and how data flows within the ecosystem. This made it difficult to identify and fix issues.
  • Pathway Validation: Frequent changes in the production environment sometimes lead to services losing the ability to communicate with other resources, causing disruptions.
  • Service Segmentation: The easy deployment options in the cloud resulted in the organic growth of multiple AWS accounts and deployment practices. The lack of network visibility made improving reliability, security, and capacity management hard.
  • Network Availability: As Netflix's ecosystem grew, understanding network bottlenecks and capacity limits became increasingly important.

How Netflix Solved them: eBPF Flow Exporter

To address these challenges, Netflix developed a powerful Flow Exporter tool. Netflix uses eBPF, an advanced technology that allows the capturing of TCP flows in near real-time. 

This sidecar effortlessly integrates with their microservices architecture, providing highly performant flow data for network insight.

How do eBPF Flow Exporters Work?

The Flow Exporter sidecar captures TCP flows using eBPF tracepoints with minimal resource usage, less than 1% of CPU and memory on any instance. 

It can adapt its behavior at runtime based on the instance's characteristics, using transport protocols like GRPC, HTTPS, and UDP.

eBPF Flow Collector for Scale

Flow Collector is a regional service that ingests and enriches the flows captured by the Flow Exporter. 

It leverages Sonar to attribute IP addresses to specific applications at specific times. This allows Netflix to analyze flows and gain insights into its network.

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The Result

Due to eBPF and the efficient flow collection pipeline, Netflix can now ingest and enrich billions of eBPF flow logs per hour. 

This allows them to analyze their network's availability, performance, and security across their global cloud-based ecosystem. 

The enriched data empowers various teams to monitor the network and make informed decisions.

Netflix's use of eBPF for network insight is a testament to the technology's power and scalability. 

By leveraging eBPF flow logs, they have achieved a level of visibility into their cloud network infrastructure that was previously unimaginable. 

The insights gained from this system have allowed them to ensure the smooth and efficient delivery of data across their vast and ever-expanding ecosystem.