Plan a production installation

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Docker Universal Control Plane helps you manage your container cluster from a centralized place. This article explains what you need to consider before deploying Docker Universal Control Plane for production.

System requirements

Before installing UCP you should make sure that all nodes (physical or virtual machines) that you’ll manage with UCP:

Hostname strategy

Docker UCP requires CS Docker Engine to run. Before installing the commercially supported Docker Engine on your cluster nodes, you should plan for a common hostname strategy.

Decide if you want to use short hostnames like engine01 or Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN) likes engine01.docker.vm. Independently of your choice, ensure your naming strategy is consistent across the cluster, since Docker Engine and UCP use hostnames.

As an example, if your cluster has 4 hosts you can name them:


Static IP addresses

Docker UCP requires each node on the cluster to have a static IP address. Before installing UCP, ensure your network and nodes are configured to support this.

Time Synchronization

In distributed systems such as Docker UCP, time synchronization is critical to ensure proper operation. As a best practice to ensure consistency between then engines in a UCP cluster, all engines should regularly synchronize time with a NTP server. If a server’s clock is skewed, unexpected behavior may cause poor performance or even failures.

Load balancing strategy

Docker UCP does not include a load balancer. You can configure your own load balancer to balance user requests across all controller nodes.

If you plan on using a load balancer, you need to decide whether you are going to add the nodes to the load balancer using their IP address, or their FQDN. Independently of what you choose, it should be consistent across nodes.

After that, you should take note of all IPs or FQDNs before starting the installation.

Load balancing UCP and DTR

By default, both UCP and DTR use port 443. If you plan on deploying UCP and DTR, your load balancer needs to distinguish traffic between the two by IP address or port number.

  • If you want to configure your load balancer to listen on port 443:
    • Use one load balancer for UCP, and another for DTR,
    • Use the same load balancer with multiple virtual IPs.
  • Configure your load balancer to expose UCP or DTR on a port other than 443.

Using external CAs

You can customize UCP to use certificates signed by an external Certificate Authority. When using your own certificates, take in consideration that you need to have a certificate bundle that has:

  • A ca.pem file with the root CA public certificate,
  • A cert.pem file with the server certificate and any intermediate CA public certificates. This certificate should also have SANs for all addresses used to reach the UCP controller,
  • A key.pem file with server private key.

You can have a certificate for each controller, with a common SAN. As an example, on a three node cluster you can have:

  • engine01.docker.vm with SAN ducp.docker.vm
  • engine02.docker.vm with SAN ducp.docker.vm
  • engine03.docker.vm with SAN ducp.docker.vm

Alternatively, you can also install UCP with a single externally-signed certificate for all controllers rather than one for each controller node. In that case, the certificate files will automatically be copied to any new controller nodes joining the cluster or being promoted into controllers.

Where to go next

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