Extending managed clusters with custom attributes

Under some cases we need a convenient way to extend OCM’s Managed Cluster data model so that our own custom multi-cluster system can easily work over the OCM’s native cluster api otherwise we will have to maintain an additional Kubernetes’ CustomResourceDefinition in the project. OCM definitely supports developers to decorate the cluster api with minimal effort, and in the following content we will walk through that briefly.

The original cluster model in OCM “Managed Cluster” is designed to be a neat and light-weight placeholder resource of which the spec doesn’t require any additional information other than “whether the cluster is accepted or not” i.e. .spec.hubAcceptsClient, and all the other fields in the spec are totally optional, e.g. .spec.managedClusterClientConfigs is only required until we install some addons that replying on that information.

Overall in OCM we can decorate the original cluster model with custom attributes in the following approaches:

  • Label: The common label primitive in terms of a Kubernetes resource.
  • Cluster Claim: A custom resource available inside the managed cluster which will be consistently reported to the hub cluster.

Labeling managed cluster

Any kubernetes resource can be attached with labels in the metadata in the form of:

    <domain name>/<label name>: <label string value>

However, there’re some restrictions to the label value such as the content length, and legal charset etc, so it’s not convenient to put some structurelized or comprehensive data in the label value.

Additionally, due to the fact that the finest granularity of authorization mechanism in Kubernetes is “resource”, so it’s also not convenient for us to protect these extended labels from unexpected modification unless intercepting the writes the “Managed Cluster” with an admission webhook which brings additional costs in cluster administration and operation. So generally it’s recommended to put those immutable or static attributes (that doesn’t frequently change over time) such as:

  • data-center information
  • network infrastructure information
  • geography attributes like cluster’s region

Last but not least, it’s generally not recommended to grant permission to the managed cluster to update non-status fields on the “Managed Cluster” so these custom attributes in labels should only be manipulated by hub cluster admins/operators. If you are looking for a way to make the local agents in the managed clusters to be capable of reporting attributes in a “bottom-up” pattern, go ahead read the “Cluster Claim” section below.

Decorating managed cluster with cluster claim

The cluster claim is a cluster-scoped custom resource working from the managed clusters and proactively projecting custom attributes towards the hub cluster’s “Managed Cluster” model. Note that the hub cluster is not supposed to make any direct modification upon the projected claims on the “ManagedCluster”, i.e. read-only to the hub cluster.

A sample of cluster claim will be like:

apiVersion: cluster.open-cluster-management.io/v1alpha1
kind: ClusterClaim
  name: id.open-cluster-management.io
  value: 95f91f25-d7a2-4fc3-9237-2ef633d8451c

After applying the cluster claim above to any managed cluster, the value of the claims will be instantly reflected in the cluster model. e.g.:

apiVersion: cluster.open-cluster-management.io/v1
kind: ManagedCluster
metadata: ...
spec: ...
    - name: id.open-cluster-management.io
      value: 95f91f25-d7a2-4fc3-9237-2ef633d8451c

And any future updates upon the claim will also be reported from the registration agent to the hub cluster.

The claims are useful if we want the hub cluster to perform different actions or behaviors reactively based on the feedback of reported values. They’re typically applicable to describe the information that changes in the managed cluster frequently. e.g.:

  • aggregated resource information (node counts, pod counts)
  • cluster resource watermark/budget
  • any cluster-scoped knowledge of the managed cluster…


After extending your “Managed Cluster” with customized attributes, now we can try the advanced cluster selection using the placement policies, which is provided ny another module of OCM helpful for building your own advanced multi-cluster systems.