AWS launched the AWS Load Balancer Controller, formerly named the ALB ingress controller, in late 2020 as an open-source project managed on GitHub to simplify operations and save costs on EKS clusters. The AWS Load Balancer Controller manages AWS Elastic Load Balancers for a Kubernetes cluster.

The controller provisions an AWS Application Load Balancer (ALB) when you create a Kubernetes Ingress or an AWS Network Load Balancer (NLB) when you create a Kubernetes Service of type LoadBalancer. 

Additionally, the controller allows you to share ALBs with multiple Kubernetes ingress rules, and manage load balancers completely outside Kubernetes using TargetGroupBinding custom resources. 

When to use AWS Application Load Balancer for Kubernetes

An ALB is recommended if you need flexible application management for HTTP-based services in Kubernetes.

Characteristics of ALBs include:

  • Support for slow start, Outposts, and Local Zone
  • Configurable idle and connection timeout
  • User authentication
  • Load Balance to multiple namespaces

Application Load Balancers are charged per hour or partial hour they are running, as well as for how many Load Balancer Capacity Units (LCU) they consume per hour.

LCUs measure the dimensions of the traffic processed by load balancers (averaged over an hour). Only the dimension with the highest usage for the hour is charged.

LCU DimensionsLCU Value
New connections per second25 new connections
Active connections per minute3,000 active connections
Processed bytes1 GB per hour for EC2 instances, containers, and IP addresses as targets, and 0.4 GB per hour for Lambda functions as targets.
Rule evaluations per second1,000 rule evaluations

When to use AWS Network Load Balancer for Kubernetes

NLBs provide high performance traffic serving that can scale to millions of requests per second.

They are ideal for non-HTTP based services inside Kubernetes such as:

  • Game servers 
  • Services that use Static IPs
  • Services that use UDP communication
  • Services that use TCP communication
  • Services that use TLS communication

Network Load Balancers are charged per hour or partial hour they are running, as well as for how many Network Load Balancer Capacity Units (NLCU) they consume per hour.

NLCUs measure the dimensions of traffic processed by load balancers (averaged over an hour). Only the dimension with the highest usage for the hour is charged.

NLCU DimensionNLCU Value for UDP TrafficNLCU Value for UDP TrafficNLCU Value for TLS Traffic
New connections or flows per second800 new TCP connections400 new UDP flows50 new TLS connections or flows
Active connections or flows (sampled per minute)100,000 active TCP connections50,000 active UDP flows3,000 active TLS connections or flows
Processed bytes1 GB per hour for EC2 instances, containers, IP addresses, and ALBs as targets.1 GB per hour for EC2 instances, containers, IP addresses, and ALBs as targets.1 GB per hour for EC2 instances, containers, IP addresses, and ALBs as targets.

AWS Elastic Load Balancers for Kubernetes product details and pricing

Load BalancerApplication Load BalancerNetwork Load Balancer
Load Balancer Type Layer 7Layer 4
Target Type IP, Instance, LambdaIP, Instance, Application Load Balancer
Protocol ListenersHTTP, HTTPS, gRPCTCP, UDP, TLS
IP Address – Static, ElasticNoYes
User AuthenticationYesNo
Direct-to-podYesYes (Fargate pods)
Load balancer to multiple namespacesYesNo
Support for fully private EKS clustersYesYes
Load balancer pricing$0.0225 per Hour$0.0225 per Hour
Load Balancer Capacity Units (LCU) pricing$0.008 per LCU-hour$0.006 per NLCU-hour
* Prices shown are for the US East (Northern Virginia) AWS Region. Prices for ALBs in the AWS Region, ALBs on Outposts are not charged per LCU-hour

Written by Anodot

Anodot is the leader in Autonomous Business Monitoring. Data-driven companies use Anodot's machine learning platform to detect business incidents in real time, helping slash time to detection by as much as 80 percent and reduce alert noise by as much as 95 percent. Thus far, Anodot has helped customers reclaim millions in time and revenue.

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