Explaining Anti-Affinity in Kubernetes

Pavol Kutaj
2 min readJan 8, 2024

The aim of this page📝 is to explain the concept of pod anti-affinity in Kubernetes, based on the particular example of a workload (referred to as example_app1) on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). We used this concept as part of incident resolution when they example_app1 started to throw high-CPU-related errors and therefore malperforming and thereforing causing lags in data delivery. The example_app1 functions as a real-time data loader. What we did is to ensure that the app is not running on the same node as the other 2 CPU-heavy apps we run in the same k8s cluster.

  • Pod anti-affinity is a scheduling concept in Kubernetes.
  • It ensures that certain pods are not scheduled on the same node.
  • This enhances the reliability and availability of applications.
  • In the context of GKE, pod placement can be controlled using Kubernetes mechanisms such as affinity and anti-affinity.
  • Anti-affinity rules are defined in the pod’s YAML file.
  • The requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution field indicates that the specified anti-affinity rules must be met when scheduling the pod.
  • The labelSelector field is used to select pods based on their labels.
  • The matchExpressions field specifies the conditions that must be met for the label selector.
  • The key field specifies the label key that the rule applies to.
  • The operator field specifies the condition that the label's value must meet.
  • The values field specifies the list of values that the label's value must be in.
  • The namespaces field specifies the namespaces that the rule applies to.
  • The topologyKey field specifies the node attribute that the rule applies to.
  • In the provided example, the example_app1 workload should not be scheduled on the same node as the example_app2 and example_app3 workloads.


Here is the particular part of the pod spec:

- labelSelector:
- key: app
operator: In
- example_app2
- example_app3
- example-prod1
- prod1
topologyKey: kubernetes.io/hostname

This configuration tells Kubernetes to avoid scheduling any pod (that uses this configuration) on the same node as any other pod that has a label with key “app” and value “example_app2” or “example_app3”, and is in the “example-prod1” or “prod1” namespaces.




Pavol Kutaj

Today I Learnt | Infrastructure Support Engineer at snowplow.io with a passion for cloud infrastructure/terraform/python/docs. More at https://pavol.kutaj.com