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What is Consul?

HashiCorp Consul is a tool for discovering and configuring services in the IT infrastructure. It provides service discovery, health checking, key/value stores and support for multiple data centers out of the box.

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TrustRadius Insights

Consul, a versatile tool for service discovery and load balancing in microservices architecture, has proven to be an essential component …
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Open Source (self-managed)


always free

HCP Consul (Cloud)


Per Hour


Self-Managed Custom Deployments


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  • Setup fee optional
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Product Demos

Using HashiCorp Consul to connect Kubernetes clusters on Azure | Azure Friday


Consul Tutorial | Getting Started with HashiCorp Consul With Demo Session 01/04


HashiCorp Consul: Service Networking Made Easy

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Product Details

What is Consul?

HashiCorp Consul is a service networking solution that enables teams to manage secure network connectivity between services and across multi-cloud environments and runtimes. Consul offers service discovery, identity-based authorization, L7 traffic management, and service-to-service encryption.

Consul boasts a fully-featured service mesh solution that solves the networking and security challenges of operating microservices and cloud infrastructure (multi-cloud and hybrid cloud).

Consul Features

  • Supported: Automate service discovery
  • Supported: Connect services across runtimes and cloud providers
  • Supported: Enable zero-trust network security

Consul Screenshots

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Consul Technical Details

Deployment TypesSoftware as a Service (SaaS), Cloud, or Web-Based
Operating SystemsUnspecified
Mobile ApplicationNo

Frequently Asked Questions

HashiCorp Consul is a tool for discovering and configuring services in the IT infrastructure. It provides service discovery, health checking, key/value stores and support for multiple data centers out of the box.

Traefik, NGINX, and Apache ZooKeeper are common alternatives for Consul.

The most common users of Consul are from Small Businesses (1-50 employees).
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Reviews and Ratings


Community Insights

TrustRadius Insights are summaries of user sentiment data from TrustRadius reviews and, when necessary, 3rd-party data sources. Have feedback on this content? Let us know!

Consul, a versatile tool for service discovery and load balancing in microservices architecture, has proven to be an essential component for many organizations. With Consul, users have praised its ability to efficiently distribute traffic, ensuring the reliability and resilience of their systems. By centralizing configuration management across multiple cloud providers and on-premise environments, Consul simplifies the maintenance of configurations, making it an invaluable asset.

Another key use case of Consul lies in its distributed key/value store, which allows users to dynamically modify properties without the need for code changes or application redeployment. This feature has received positive feedback from customers as it provides flexibility and ease of use. Additionally, Consul serves as a secure data store for secret management solutions, acting as a reliable backend for Hashicorp Vault. Users have reported that this integration strengthens their infrastructure's overall security posture.

In addition to these critical use cases, Consul excels in networking tasks and service monitoring. Its functionality as a single source of truth for global key-value storage ensures consistency and reliability in configuration values. For those seeking simplified management of application configurations, Consul enables application discovery and the externalization of properties. Furthermore, it addresses the challenge of securing services across organizations by proactively identifying service interactions and aiding in issue resolution.

Overall, users appreciate how Consul offers solutions to common pain points in modern infrastructure management. Its role in service discovery, load balancing, configuration management, secret storage, and network tasks makes it a valuable tool for organizations working with microservices and distributed systems.

Ease of Integration: Users have found Consul relatively easy to operate and admire its compliance with cloud-native standards, making it seamless to integrate with other HashiCorp stacks like Nomad and Vault. They appreciate how Consul simplifies the process of connecting different services within their infrastructure.

Service Discovery: Reviewers highly value the availability of essential documentation and tutorials for all HashiCorp products, including Consul. They specifically mention that Consul stands out as one of the best service discovery tools available in the market. Its ability to be used in a polyglot architecture without being bound to any specific language is particularly highlighted.

High Availability: Many users find Consul invaluable when it comes to defining infrastructure with high availability and fault tolerance. They highlight how Consul facilitates the creation of a highly reliable infrastructure based on top of preemptible VMs, ensuring that services remain accessible even if individual nodes experience downtime or failures.

Complex network setup: Several users have found Consul's network-related setup to be complex and challenging. They have expressed difficulty in detecting issues and determining the root cause of problems, which can make troubleshooting a time-consuming process.

Lack of documentation for fine-tuning and troubleshooting: Some users have mentioned a lack of documentation for fine-tuning and troubleshooting scenarios with Consul. This can make it difficult for users to optimize their configurations or resolve issues that may arise.

Difficulties with Java SDK and auto-discovery feature: A few users have stated that Consul's SDK for Java is difficult to understand. They also mentioned that its auto-discovery feature is not as good as Eureka, another service discovery tool. Additionally, these users feel that the user interface could be improved for better usability.

Users have made several recommendations based on their experience with Consul. They have found the documentation to be helpful in providing quick assistance. Additionally, users suggest evaluating how Consul will interact with other components in the stack to ensure seamless integration. Furthermore, it is recommended to run a good cluster by preferably having one Consul instance on every (virtual) machine. Users believe that Consul is a great tool for service discovery and appreciate its simple data store feature.

Attribute Ratings


(1-5 of 5)
Companies can't remove reviews or game the system. Here's why
Erlon Sousa Pinheiro | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
I've been using Hiera as a database for my puppet deployments for years, specifically by using encrypted Hiera, but this year I had to create a new environment and I have decided to try something more robust. My logical choice was to look for something well established on DevOps ecosystem. I've heard a lot about HashiCorp Consul and I have decided to try it. Now, Consul is my official key-value solution being reliable and efficient making me confident mainly about high availability.
  • Key-Value database management.
  • Service discovery.
  • Centralized configuration database with native high availability.
  • Consul should have cryptography built in. Depending on other solutions for that doesn't look smart in my opinion.
  • Its Frontend has space for improvements.
  • Documentation also is a little poor.
Consul looks to me like an amazing solution to store configuration data. In huge cloud environments like what we are using nowadays, it is quite important to have a reliable source of parameters to our distributed applications, easily scalable and also, easy to change parameters spreading them efficiently over our entire environment.
  • We have now an extra environment (the consul cluster) to support.
  • We have now a reliable source of configuration, with special attention to the high availability feature.
  • We have now a single source of truth on configuration for our applications.
We used and evaluated solutions like AWS KMS, etcd, regular config files spread out by puppet, etc. Consul was the best option through our tests. Still a product with huge room for improvement, but like the other HashiCorp products it is a valuable product to support your environment. Even with room for improvement, I consider it a reliable and stable product.
I've never used paid support from HashiCorp, but I consider its support a good one, since they provide a lot of free resources for the community and there are good user groups supporting you on several sorts of issues. Also, HashiCorp is known as a company with a strong relationship with the community, that is easily noticed by the events HashiCorp promotes over the world.
Borislav Traykov | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
We use Consul for 2 primary purposes:
  • service DNS across different OSes.
    This saves us the trouble of using hosts file mappings, relying on an external DNS provider and also give us a stable FQDN DNS name for our services.
  • global key-value store for having a "Single Source of Truth" where configuration values are written to and read from.
  • Providing a service DNS
  • Being a fast, stable and reliable service - a cluster of minimum 3 nodes by default
  • Being a robust key-value store
  • Easy to install and configure
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Slick and really useful web UI
  • Good official documentation
  • Error logs - some of the errors require Googling as you have no idea what they mean
  • Misconfiguration is painful - strange errors can occur if you make even a tiny mistake
Consul can provide a light-weight, lightning-fast and robust solution for the following:
  • Network mesh
  • Service DNS
  • Global key-value store (values can be complex objects as well)
  • Utility for blue-green deployments
  • Service health checking
Consul can be used in any or a combination of these scenarios. Regardless if you are a network administrator or a regular software engineer, Consul can add value to your work.
  • Reliable - it never goes down by itself
  • Robust - we have a lot of flexibility in defining our key-value store
  • Consistent - it never gives unpredictable results
  • Streamlined configuration management across multiple services
  • Provided a software-defined DNS service for our software services
  • Is reliable and consistent
  • Negative: Was a pain if due to a misconfiguration we had to deal with error messages
We used to use Microsoft SQL Server for configuration management of our services.
Unfortunately that was a pain because of:
  • Developers did not know how to persist objects effectively in MS SQL Server
  • SQL queries or a custom web UI were the ways of keeping the data up to date, but both options were hard to use
  • Each service would have its own slightly different configuration in a file and in MS SQL Server so that caused a lot of confusion and configuration management overhead
Consul brought the following benefits:
  • Its own modern web UI
  • Streamlined use of objects and multiple different configuration (JSON-based)
  • Service DNS vs IP addresses is a God-send for the dev and operations teams.
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Consul is currently being used at our company across multiple teams in both development and operations. We use Consul as a back-end for Vault, we use Consul as a means to do service discovery and health checks, and we also use the Consul K/V store to coordinate runs of our configuration management platform, Chef.
  • Service Health: Using Consul for service health/discovery has been critical to our success in a hybrid environment
  • K/V Store: The Consul K/V store is the best solution out there for our particular use case, which is as a locking mechanism to coordinate otherwise random runs of our configuration management system. This has allowed us to have peace of mind of system availability in our on-prem infrastructure.
  • API: The Consul API as a whole is excellent and extremely easy to work with
  • Documentation: Hashicorp really does documentation well. Their examples are easy to follow and everything is written in a manner that is easy to understand for beginners with the tool.
  • The GUI: The GUI interface for Consul has gotten a lot better over the years. Since Consul is so easy to interact with via API, this isn't a showstopper, but for those that are less command line inclined it's always nice to be able to refer them to an easy to use and understand web interface
  • It's chatty: Consul is extremely chatty. Sometimes it's particularly chatty at 2am with no indication as to why and eats up quite a bit of resources. Just be sure to provision your systems that typically take a heavy load with a little extra for Consul
Right now, I would wager to say that Consul is the best cloud agnostic solution for service health/discovery and for integrating with Vault (for obvious reasons).
Consul's API is extremely user friendly. While their web interface isn't quite as "mature", it's still pretty easily navigated for the average person. Together they make a pretty easy to pick up and use tool.
At present, I do not have any experience with interaction from Hashicorp support. That said, I'm rating them a 5 on principle because they have excellent and well thought out documentation.
Eric Krueger | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Consul is being used by the IT department to help create efficiencies across the company. Because we are a multi-data center environment we rely on Consul's monitoring to keep us alerted properly. Our DNS and services get a big boost while making our engineer's jobs easier. I highly recommend this product for any IT department.
  • Consul makes keeping our DNS up to date very simple and easy.
  • Configuration changes are a snap when Consul is involved.
  • All of our services register easy and we sleep better knowing Consul is on the job.
  • We would like to see more out of the box training for Consul use.
  • Best practice examples would be nice for routing.
  • The agent could be easier to run.
Consul is well suited for both SMB as well as enterprise environments. I have found it to be a robust scalable tool to help make our company more efficient. Consul excels in a single database or a multi-database environment which makes searches easier. Small businesses might find this a bit overkill as a product but it can still benefit them.
  • Consul has paid for itself just in monitoring and keeping us notified alone.
  • Configuration changes can be monitored and will make even your Security team smile.
  • The time saving tools will help make even a lean IT team work like a larger force.
  • Serf
Consul was easier to configure out of the box than Serf and gave us more initial options. Its easy to use tools and support were by far superior to Serf in many ways. Support alone was one of those areas that Serf could take an example from Consul to keep its customers happy.
Our whole IT department has been cross trained. By making this tool available to our whole department it has made everyone's jobs easier. The fact that we can make things more efficient while saving hard dollars is a win all around. Management likes the ROI they see from the initial investment.
Claudio Fernando Maciel | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
We are using Consul as our service discovery to provide load balancing decisions on our swarm of containers, distributed throughout our clients' servers, as well as our servers. The DevOps team is the responsible for leveraging our Consul instances, maintaining them and keeping them communicable with all our nodes in a real time fashion.
  • Quick, hands-on solution to integrate with Docker containers via Docker-machine in a Docker Swarm flavour
  • Automatic provisioning of the mapped services via a dynamic API. One cannot beat that!
  • Free Health Checking means by which we can assert whether a certain service is up and running or not.
  • When it gracefully dies, it dies too gracefully. Way to graceful to find in a simple way what was wrong.
  • Working with the ACLs could be a little simpler.
  • I didn't find a native way of configuring it as a circuit breaker. Perhaps that could be an item to be improved in the future.
I've been using Consul as my only service discovery tool for my Swarm of Nodes, deployed with Docker. Also, as a side effect, it provides me a great health checking tool for my node services. I didn't need to to much configuration, pretty much the stock Consul docker image ran almost out of the box, without much hassle, which in this aspect, is a basic characteristics of Consul.
  • It contains a native web UI, which in contrast to its counterparts, is handy, very intuitive and - most importantly - very informative. It leaves no room for doubt about your services "forest" health. So, for that purpose, the learning curve was almost down to non-existent. Our team managed to work seamlessly with Consul being our services API
  • Our management staff had a difficult time understanding what Consul was really all about. For technical staff it is pretty simple to understand the huge value such a tool can pose to our suite of solutions, but once our management staff took the grasp of its valuable handy set of tools, we didn't take long to start using it and keeping track of our Swarm overall health, with was a constant concern for the entire company before.
  • For load balancing purposes, we were relying pretty much on guesses before we decided to use Consul. One would check a certain node overall health and decide if we would need to spring a new instance at AWS or Digital Ocean.
  • zoekeeper
We studied Zoekeeper, trying to decide which could become our service broker tool of choice. But although it is meant to be a very high performance tool, it got immensely shadowed by the vast plethora of available tools that Consul offers. The monitoring, health checking tools, as well as the key-value data storage and gossip clustering functionalities just could not be beaten.
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