# Production Deployment

This page covers the topic of running Pomerium in a production configuration. See the quick start section for canned example configurations.

Please also see architecture for information on component interactions.

# Service Mode

For configuration of the service mode, see Service Mode.

# All in One

In smaller deployments or while testing, it may be desirable to run in "all-in-one" mode. This reduces resource footprint and simplifies DNS configuration. All URLs point at the same pomerium service instance.

# Discrete Services

In larger footprints, it is recommended to run Pomerium as a collection of discrete service clusters. This limits blast radius in the event of vulnerabilities and allows for per-service scaling and monitoring.

# Scaling

In dedicated service mode, you have the opportunity to scale the components of Pomerium independently.

All of Pomerium's components are designed to be stateless, and may all be scaled horizontally or vertically. In general, horizontal scaling is recommended. Vertical scaling will lead to diminished returns after ~8 vCPUs.

The Cache service, which is responsible for session and identity related data, must be configured for external persistence to be fully stateless.

# Proxy

Proxy service, as the name implies, is responsible for proxying all user traffic, in addition to performing Authentication and Authorization checks. The proxy is directly in path for user traffic.

Proxy will need resources scaled in conjunction with request count and may need average request size accounted for. The heavier your user traffic, the more resources the Proxy service should have provisioned.

# Authorize

The Authorize service is responsible for policy checks during requests. It is in the hot path for user requests but does not directly handle user traffic.

Authorize will need resources scaled in conjunction with request count. Request size and type should be of a constant complexity. In most environments, Authorize and Proxy will scale linearly with request volume.

# Authenticate

The Authenticate service handles session cookie setup, session storage, and authentication with your Identity Provider.

Authenticate requires significantly fewer resources than other components due to the only-occasional requirement to establish new sessions. Add resources to the Authenticate service if you have a high session/user churn rate. The requests should be constant time and complexity, but may vary by Identity Provider implementation.

# Cache

The Cache service is responsible for background identity data retrieval and storage. It is in the hot path for user authentication. However, it does not directly handle user traffic and is not in-path for authorization decisions.

The Cache service does not require significant resources, as it provides streaming updates of state changes to the Authorize service. There will be utilization spikes when Authorize services are restarted and perform an initial synchronization. Add resources if running many Authorize services and performing restarts in large batches. In many deployments, 2 replicas of Cache is enough to provide resilient service.


In a production configuration, Cache CPU/IO utilization also translates to IO load on the underlying storage system. Ensure it is scaled accordingly!

# Load Balancing

In any production deployment, running multiple replicas of each Pomerium service is strongly recommended. Each service has slightly different concerns about utilizing the replicas for HA and scaling, enumerated below.

# Proxy

You should provide a TCP or HTTP(s) load balancer between end users and the Proxy services.

Proxy can handle its own SSL termination but is not a full web server. If you need any special capabilities such as redirects, sticky sessions, etc, it is typical to put Pomerium behind an L7 load balancer or ingress controller.

# Authenticate

You should provide a TCP or HTTP(s) load balancer between end users and the Authorize services.

Authenticate is compatible with any L4 or L7/HTTP load balancer. Session stickiness should not be required and it is typical to have Authenticate be a named vhost on the same L7 load balancer as the Proxy service.

# Authorize and Cache

You do not need to provide a load balancer in front of Authorize and Cache services. Both utilize GRPC, and thus has special requirements if you should choose to use an external load balancer. GRPC can perform client based load balancing, and in most configurations is the best architecture.

By default, Pomerium gRPC clients will automatically connect to all IPs returned by a DNS query for the name of an upstream service. They will then regularly re-query DNS for changes to the Authorize or Cache service cluster. Health checks and failover are automatic.

Many load balancers do not support HTTP2 yet. Please verify with your hardware, software or cloud provider

If you choose to use an external proxying load balancer instead of the default client implementation:

  • L7 mode requires HTTP2 support or Authorize requests will fail
  • L4 (TCP) mode, GRPC/HTTP2 traffic from a Proxy instance will be pinned to a single Authorize instance due to the way HTTP2 multiplexes requests over a single established connection
  • Due to the above limitations it is highly desirable to only use a load balancer which supports HTTP2 at Layer 7

# High Availability

As mentioned in scaling, Pomerium components themselves are stateless and support horizontal scale out for both availability and performance reasons.

A given service type does not require communication with its peer instances to provide high availability. Eg, a proxy service does not communicate with other proxies.

Regardless of the service mode, it is recommended you run 2+ instances of Pomerium with as much physical and logical separation as possible. For example, in Cloud environments, you should deploy instances of each service to at least 2 different zones. On-prem environments should deploy 2+ instances to independent hardware.

Ensure that you have enough spare capacity to handle the scope of your failure domains.


Multiple replicas of Cache or all-in-one service are only supported with external storage configured

# SSL/TLS Certificates

Pomerium utilizes TLS end to end, so the placement, certificate authorities and covered subjects are critical to align correctly.

In a typical deployment, a minimum of two certs are required:

  • A wildcard certificate which covers the external from names, the Proxy service's external name and the Authenticate service's external name
    • Must be trusted by user browsers or clients
    • Must cover subject names from the user perspective
  • A certificate which covers the Authorize service's name
    • Must be trusted by the Proxy
    • Must cover the subject name from the Proxy's perspective

If you have L7 load balancing in front of the Proxy/Authenticate:

  • Your wildcard certificate should live on the load balancer
  • Your Authenticate and Proxy services will need a certificate accepted by the load balancer
  • Your load balancer can be configured to verify the identity of the Authenticate and Proxy certificates

If you have TLS enabled applications behind the proxy:

  • you may provide a client certificate for the Proxy service to connect to downstream services with and verify
  • the Proxy may be configured to verify the name and certificate authority of downstream services with either the standard Root CA bundle or a custom CA