You can deploy OpenShift Container Platform clusters by using two different control plane configurations: standalone or hosted control planes. The standalone configuration uses dedicated virtual machines or physical machines to host the control plane. With hosted control planes for OpenShift Container Platform, you create control planes as pods on a hosting cluster without the need for dedicated virtual or physical machines for each control plane.

Introduction to hosted control planes

You can use hosted control planes for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to reduce management costs, optimize cluster deployment time, and separate management and workload concerns so that you can focus on your applications.

Hosted control planes is available by using the multicluster engine for Kubernetes operator version 2.0 or later on the following platforms:

  • Bare metal by using the Agent provider

  • OpenShift Virtualization

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), as a Technology Preview feature

  • IBM Z, as a Technology Preview feature

  • IBM Power, as a Technology Preview feature

Architecture of hosted control planes

OpenShift Container Platform is often deployed in a coupled, or standalone, model, where a cluster consists of a control plane and a data plane. The control plane includes an API endpoint, a storage endpoint, a workload scheduler, and an actuator that ensures state. The data plane includes compute, storage, and networking where workloads and applications run.

The standalone control plane is hosted by a dedicated group of nodes, which can be physical or virtual, with a minimum number to ensure quorum. The network stack is shared. Administrator access to a cluster offers visibility into the cluster’s control plane, machine management APIs, and other components that contribute to the state of a cluster.

Although the standalone model works well, some situations require an architecture where the control plane and data plane are decoupled. In those cases, the data plane is on a separate network domain with a dedicated physical hosting environment. The control plane is hosted by using high-level primitives such as deployments and stateful sets that are native to Kubernetes. The control plane is treated as any other workload.

Diagram that compares the hosted control plane model against OpenShift with a coupled control plane and workers

Benefits of hosted control planes

With hosted control planes for OpenShift Container Platform, you can pave the way for a true hybrid-cloud approach and enjoy several other benefits.

  • The security boundaries between management and workloads are stronger because the control plane is decoupled and hosted on a dedicated hosting service cluster. As a result, you are less likely to leak credentials for clusters to other users. Because infrastructure secret account management is also decoupled, cluster infrastructure administrators cannot accidentally delete control plane infrastructure.

  • With hosted control planes, you can run many control planes on fewer nodes. As a result, clusters are more affordable.

  • Because the control planes consist of pods that are launched on OpenShift Container Platform, control planes start quickly. The same principles apply to control planes and workloads, such as monitoring, logging, and auto-scaling.

  • From an infrastructure perspective, you can push registries, HAProxy, cluster monitoring, storage nodes, and other infrastructure components to the tenant’s cloud provider account, isolating usage to the tenant.

  • From an operational perspective, multicluster management is more centralized, which results in fewer external factors that affect the cluster status and consistency. Site reliability engineers have a central place to debug issues and navigate to the cluster data plane, which can lead to shorter Time to Resolution (TTR) and greater productivity.

Additional resources

Glossary of common concepts and personas for hosted control planes

When you use hosted control planes for OpenShift Container Platform, it is important to understand its key concepts and the personas that are involved.


hosted cluster

An OpenShift Container Platform cluster with its control plane and API endpoint hosted on a management cluster. The hosted cluster includes the control plane and its corresponding data plane.

hosted cluster infrastructure

Network, compute, and storage resources that exist in the tenant or end-user cloud account.

hosted control plane

An OpenShift Container Platform control plane that runs on the management cluster, which is exposed by the API endpoint of a hosted cluster. The components of a control plane include etcd, the Kubernetes API server, the Kubernetes controller manager, and a VPN.

hosting cluster

See management cluster.

managed cluster

A cluster that the hub cluster manages. This term is specific to the cluster lifecycle that the multicluster engine for Kubernetes Operator manages in Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management. A managed cluster is not the same thing as a management cluster. For more information, see Managed cluster.

management cluster

An OpenShift Container Platform cluster where the HyperShift Operator is deployed and where the control planes for hosted clusters are hosted. The management cluster is synonymous with the hosting cluster.

management cluster infrastructure

Network, compute, and storage resources of the management cluster.


cluster instance administrator

Users who assume this role are the equivalent of administrators in standalone OpenShift Container Platform. This user has the cluster-admin role in the provisioned cluster, but might not have power over when or how the cluster is updated or configured. This user might have read-only access to see some configuration projected into the cluster.

cluster instance user

Users who assume this role are the equivalent of developers in standalone OpenShift Container Platform. This user does not have a view into OperatorHub or machines.

cluster service consumer

Users who assume this role can request control planes and worker nodes, drive updates, or modify externalized configurations. Typically, this user does not manage or access cloud credentials or infrastructure encryption keys. The cluster service consumer persona can request hosted clusters and interact with node pools. Users who assume this role have RBAC to create, read, update, or delete hosted clusters and node pools within a logical boundary.

cluster service provider

Users who assume this role typically have the cluster-admin role on the management cluster and have RBAC to monitor and own the availability of the HyperShift Operator as well as the control planes for the tenant’s hosted clusters. The cluster service provider persona is responsible for several activities, including the following examples:

  • Owning service-level objects for control plane availability, uptime, and stability

  • Configuring the cloud account for the management cluster to host control planes

  • Configuring the user-provisioned infrastructure, which includes the host awareness of available compute resources

Versioning for hosted control planes

With each major, minor, or patch version release of OpenShift Container Platform, two components of hosted control planes are released:

  • HyperShift Operator

  • Command-line interface (CLI)

The HyperShift Operator manages the lifecycle of hosted clusters that are represented by HostedCluster API resources. The HyperShift Operator is released with each OpenShift Container Platform release. After the HyperShift Operator is installed, it creates a config map called supported-versions in the HyperShift namespace, as shown in the following example. The config map describes the HostedCluster versions that can be deployed.

    apiVersion: v1
      supported-versions: '{"versions":["4.15"]}'
    kind: ConfigMap
        hypershift.openshift.io/supported-versions: "true"
      name: supported-versions
      namespace: hypershift

The CLI is a helper utility for development purposes. The CLI is released as part of any HyperShift Operator release. No compatibility policies are guaranteed.

The API, hypershift.openshift.io, provides a way to create and manage lightweight, flexible, heterogeneous OpenShift Container Platform clusters at scale. The API exposes two user-facing resources: HostedCluster and NodePool. A HostedCluster resource encapsulates the control plane and common data plane configuration. When you create a HostedCluster resource, you have a fully functional control plane with no attached nodes. A NodePool resource is a scalable set of worker nodes that is attached to a HostedCluster resource.

The API version policy generally aligns with the policy for Kubernetes API versioning.

Upgrading scenarios for hosted control planes

Consider the following information before you upgrade:

  • You use bare metal as a management cluster platform.

  • You use Agent or KubeVirt as a Hosted cluster platform.

The management cluster is based on the installer-provisioned infrastructure (IPI).

Review the following scenarios:

  • While running your management cluster on OpenShift Container Platform 4.14, you can upgrade the multicluster engine (MCE) version from 2.4 to 2.5. Then, you can upgrade your hosted cluster and node pools from OpenShift Container Platform 4.14 to OpenShift Container Platform 4.15.

  • If you want to upgrade management cluster, MCE, hosted cluster, and node pools to their latest versions:

    • Upgrade your management cluster from OpenShift Container Platform 4.14 to OpenShift Container Platform 4.15

    • Upgrade the MCE version from 2.4 to 2.5

    • Upgrade your hosted cluster and node pools from OpenShift Container Platform 4.14 to OpenShift Container Platform 4.15