Pushing Kubernetes API requests to the managed clusters

By following the instructions in this document, an OCM hub admin will be able to “push” Kubernetes API requests to the managed clusters. The benefit of using this method for “pushing” requests in OCM is that we don’t need to explicitly configure any API endpoint for the managed clusters or provide any client credentials as preparation. We just need to enable/install the following OCM addons:

  • Cluster-Proxy: Setting up the konnectivity tunnels between the hub cluster and the managed clusters so the hub cluster can connect/access the managed cluster from anywhere.
  • Managed-ServiceAccount: Automating the lifecycle of the local service account in the managed clusters and projecting the tokens back to the hub cluster so that the Kubernetes API clients from the hub can make authenticated requests.
  • Cluster-Gateway: An aggregated apiserver providing a “proxy” subresource which helps the hub admin to gracefully access the managed clusters by standard Kubernetes API calls (including long-running calls).


You must meet the following prerequisites to install the managed service account:

  • Ensure your open-cluster-management release is greater than v0.5.0.
  • Ensure kubectl is installed.
  • Ensure helm is installed.


Adding helm chart repo

Making sure the following OCM addons are discovered by your helm environment:

$ helm repo add ocm https://openclustermanagement.blob.core.windows.net/releases/
$ helm repo update
$ helm search repo ocm
NAME                             	CHART VERSION	APP VERSION	DESCRIPTION                                   
ocm/cluster-gateway-addon-manager	1.3.2       	1.0.0      	A Helm chart for Cluster-Gateway Addon-Manager
ocm/cluster-proxy                	0.2.0        	1.0.0      	A Helm chart for Cluster-Proxy OCM Addon      
ocm/managed-serviceaccount       	0.2.0        	1.0.0      	A Helm chart for Managed ServiceAccount Addon 

Install the OCM addons

By the following helm commands to install the addons:

$ helm -n open-cluster-management-addon install cluster-proxy ocm/cluster-proxy
$ helm -n open-cluster-management-addon install managed-serviceaccount ocm/managed-serviceaccount
$ helm -n open-cluster-management-addon install cluster-gateway ocm/cluster-gateway-addon-manager  \
    # Delegating for secret discovery to "managed-serviceaccount" addon.                           \
    # Skip the option for manual secret management.                                                \
    --set manualSecretManagement=false                                                             \
    # Enabling konnectivity tunnels via "cluster-proxy" addon.                                     \
    # Skip the option if the hub cluster and the managed clusters are already mutually accessible. \
    --set konnectivityEgress=true

Confirm addon installation

The commands above installs the addon manager into the hub cluster, and the manager will creating ManagedClusterAddOn automatically into the cluster namespaces representing the addon is plumbed into the managed cluster. In order to check their status, run:

$ kubectl get managedclusteraddon -A
managed1    cluster-gateway          True
managed1    cluster-proxy            True                   
managed1    managed-serviceaccount   True 

Furthermore, after the addons are all deployed successfully, the hub admin will be able to see a new resource named ClusterGateway registered into the hub cluster:

$ kubectl get clustergateway
managed1              ServiceAccountToken   ClusterProxy


Now the gateway is ready for proxying your requests to the managed clusters dynamically. The easiest way to verify if the proxying framework is working is to run the following command:

$ export CLUSTER_NAME=managed1 # Or any other valid managed cluster name
$ kubectl get --raw="/apis/cluster.core.oam.dev/v1alpha1/clustergateways/${CLUSTER_NAME}/proxy/healthz"

Another nice feature is that you can also easily convert the kubeconfig of the hub cluster into a managed cluster’s kubeconfig by adding the api suffix to the cluster endpoint in your kubeconfig:

$ # Copy and edit your original hub kubeconfig into e.g. managed1.kubeconfig
apiVersion: v1
---    server: https://x.x.x.x
+++    server: https://x.x.x.x/apis/cluster.core.oam.dev/v1alpha1/clustergateways/${CLUSTER_NAME}/proxy

Then we can access the managed cluster directly via kubectl with the tweaked kubeconfig:

$ KUBECONFIG=managed1.kubeconfig kubectl get ns

However upon your first-time installation, you may encounter the RBAC restriction message such as:

Error from server (Forbidden): namespaces is forbidden: User "system:serviceaccount:open-cluster-management-managed-serviceaccount:cluster-gateway" cannot list resource "namespaces" in API group "" at the cluster scope

That is because we haven’t set up proper RBAC permissions for the egress service account managed by the ManagedServiceAccount yet. After granting sufficient permissions for the service account in the managed clusters, you will be able to freely operate the managed cluster from the hub without asking for any credential or kubeconfig from the managed clusters. Note that the service account is also periodically rotated by the addons so there’s no need to worry in sustainable credential management.


Overall, the following picture of architecture reveals the internal technique of the request “pushing” framework in the OCM:

Cluster proxy architecture

With the help of the framework, we can easily develop a web service or an operator that runs in the hub cluster and is able to access to the managed clusters through the gateway. Note that it’s generally not recommended to list-watch the managed clusters from the hub because it’s in a sense violating the original philosophy of “pull” or “hub-agent” architecture of OCM. In order to coordinate the hub cluster and the managed clusters in your custom system, consider build your own OCM addon based on the addon-framework which provides you utilities for further customization.