HCP Consul Central
This topic explains HCP Consul Central, a hosted management plane service available through the HashiCorp Cloud Platform. HCP Consul Central is a HashiCorp-hosted service that supports centralized global management operations across all Consul clusters. It provides global visibility and control for both self-managed and HashiCorp-managed Consul clusters, even when you deploy services in multiple cloud environments and regions.
HCP Consul Central is a management plane service hosted by HashiCorp that enables you to monitor and manage multiple Consul server clusters regardless of where the clusters are hosted. It presents aggregated health information for your clusters and services from a single location. In a stack of networking software, the management plane is a service at a level above the service mesh's control plane and the data plane as demonstrated in the following diagram:
HCP Consul Central supports both HashiCorp-managed clusters and self-managed clusters. HashiCorp-managed clusters connect to it by default, but you must link self-managed clusters to HCP Consul Central individually. To learn more about the process, refer to link self-managed clusters.
Each organization in the HCP platform has its own HCP Consul Central service that is not accessible to any other organization. You can assign administrative roles to users in your organization so that they can administrate user interactions in HCP Consul Central. For more information, refer to user permissions.
HCP Consul Central does not automatically extend the service mesh between connected datacenters. You must join clusters using either WAN federation or cluster peering to enable mesh functionality across clusters. However, HCP Consul Central provides UI workflows to simplify these processes for you.
HCP Consul Central can improve your experience with HCP Consul in the following ways:
- Centralized operations: Reduces operational overhead by enabling operators and SREs to visualize and monitor the health of multiple Consul server clusters at once.
- Unified service catalog: Collects location and health information for your clusters' service instances in a single aggregated service catalog. Search for a service by name and then find clusters where service instances are deployed.
- Secure Consul configuration: HCP Consul Central helps you deploy Consul clusters with TLS, gossip encryption, and ACL tokens enabled by default.
- Secure and easy UI access: Eliminates the need to set up additional load balancers to your Consul cluster and is especially useful for Consul servers running in air-gapped environments with highly restrictive network controls.
- Simplified cluster peering workflow: Eliminates the need to access individual Consul clusters to create and exchange tokens when establishing cluster peering connections.
- Observability dashboard: Automatically-generated visualizations of server and proxy metrics provide insights into cluster operations.
HCP Consul Central provides the following network views to support your workflows and deployments:
- Consul overview. View a list of all HashiCorp-managed and self-managed clusters connected to your project or organization's HCP Consul Central. Get up-to-date information about the overall health of your network and navigate to specific clusters and services for additional management options.
- Cluster details. View details about a specific cluster, including service counts, TLS expiration, and the cluster's fault tolerance. Access the cluster's Consul UI directly or review Raft and networking details for each Consul server in the cluster.
- Services. View a list of services running on your clusters, the number of service instances running on each cluster, and the health of services. Filter and sort services by name, cluster, status, and type.
- Cluster peering. View a list of registered cluster peering connections alongside exported and imported service counts. Create and delete cluster peering connections using a dedicated UI workflow.
In addition, clusters linked to HCP Consul Central have expanded observability into server and proxy metrics. Refer to Consul observability for more information.
HCP Consul Central features for self-managed clusters are available to existing HCP Consul subscribers and Consul Enterprise license holders at no additional cost. Consul community edition users can use HCP Consul Central through a 90 day trial.
After you begin your trial, you can use all of HCP Consul Central's features with self-managed clusters, including observability and centralized UI management. Clusters that are subject to trial limitations include a
Trial access badge in the Consul overview. The cluster details for each linked community cluster also includes a trial access badge that counts the number of days remaining in the trial.
After the 90 day trial period ends, community edition users retain their access to the Consul overview, cluster details, and unified services overview. The following HCP Consul Central features are no longer available after the trial period ends:
- Hosted UI access through the cluster details page
- Cluster peering global workflow
- Observability dashboard
You can upgrade a community license to an Enterprise license at at any time during the trial period. After the 90 day trial ends, we store observability metrics for 30 days. If you upgrade to an Enterprise license during this 30 day period, you can restore your organization's metrics. Contact sales for more information.