Skip to content

VPC CNI Custom Networking

Custom networking addresses the IP exhaustion issue by assigning the node and Pod IPs from secondary VPC address spaces (CIDR). Custom networking support supports ENIConfig custom resource. The ENIConfig includes an alternate subnet CIDR range (carved from a secondary VPC CIDR), along with the security group(s) that the Pods will belong to. When custom networking is enabled, the VPC CNI creates secondary ENIs in the subnet defined under ENIConfig. The CNI assigns Pods an IP addresses from a CIDR range defined in a ENIConfig CRD.

Since the primary ENI is not used by custom networking, the maximum number of Pods you can run on a node is lower. The host network Pods continue to use IP address assigned to the primary ENI. Additionally, the primary ENI is used to handle source network translation and route Pods traffic outside the node.

VPC CNI Configuration

In this example, the vpc-cni addon is configured using before_compute = true. This is done to ensure the vpc-cni is created and updated before any EC2 instances are created so that the desired settings have applied before they will be referenced. With this configuration, you will now see that nodes created will have --max-pods 110 configured do to the use of prefix delegation being enabled on the vpc-cni.

If you find that your nodes are not being created with the correct number of max pods (i.e. - for m5.large, if you are seeing a max pods of 29 instead of 110), most likely the vpc-cni was not configured before the EC2 instances.


To enable VPC CNI custom networking, you must configuring the following components:

  1. Create a VPC with additional CIDR block associations. These additional CIDR blocks will be used to create subnets for the VPC CNI custom networking:

    module "vpc" {
    source  = "terraform-aws-modules/vpc/aws"
    # Truncated for brevity
    secondary_cidr_blocks = [local.secondary_vpc_cidr] # can add up to 5 total CIDR blocks
    azs = local.azs
    private_subnets = concat(
       [for k, v in local.azs : cidrsubnet(local.vpc_cidr, 4, k)],
       [for k, v in local.azs : cidrsubnet(local.secondary_vpc_cidr, 2, k)]
  2. Specify the VPC CNI custom networking configuration in the vpc-cni addon configuration:

    module "eks" {
    source  = "terraform-aws-modules/eks/aws"
    # Truncated for brevity
    cluster_addons = {
       vpc-cni = {
          before_compute = true
          most_recent    = true # To ensure access to the latest settings provided
          configuration_values = jsonencode({
          env = {
             AWS_VPC_K8S_CNI_CUSTOM_NETWORK_CFG = "true"
             ENI_CONFIG_LABEL_DEF               = ""
  3. Create the ENIConfig custom resource for each subnet that you want to deploy pods into:

    resource "kubectl_manifest" "eni_config" {
    for_each = zipmap(local.azs, slice(module.vpc.private_subnets, 3, 6))
    yaml_body = yamlencode({
       apiVersion = ""
       kind       = "ENIConfig"
       metadata = {
          name = each.key
       spec = {
          securityGroups = [
          subnet = each.value

Once those settings have been successfully applied, you can verify if custom networking is enabled correctly by inspecting one of the aws-node-* (AWS VPC CNI) pods:

kubectl describe pod aws-node-ttg4h -n kube-system

# Output should look similar below (truncated for brevity)
    ADDITIONAL_ENI_TAGS:                    {}
    AWS_VPC_CNI_NODE_PORT_SUPPORT:          true
    AWS_VPC_ENI_MTU:                        9001
    AWS_VPC_K8S_CNI_CUSTOM_NETWORK_CFG:     true # <- this should be set to true
    AWS_VPC_K8S_CNI_EXTERNALSNAT:           false
    AWS_VPC_K8S_CNI_LOGLEVEL:               DEBUG