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Kubernetes setup on Amazon AWS using Kops and Ansible

This repository contains tooling for deploying Kubernetes cluster in Amazon AWS using the Kops tool. Kops is a great tool if you want to setup HA cluster and don't require too much flexibility. If you prefer flexibility instead of HA setup you should have a look at another repsoitory where I have Kubernetes setup implemented using Terraform and Kubeadm tool. I have also a special minikube single node installation.


  • 16.4.2018 Update to Kops 1.9 and Kubernetes 1.9, update addons, remove Storage Class (installed by Kops automatically) and Route53 addon (replaced by ExternalDNS addon)
  • 2.1.2018 Add support for public and private topologies
  • 9.12.2017 Update to Kops 1.8 and Kubernetes 1.8
  • 28.11.2017 Update addon versions
  • 14.10.2017 Update to Kops 1.7.1 which fixes CVE-2017-14491
  • 22.8.2017 Update to Kops 1.7 and Kubernetes 1.7

Installing the cluster

The cluster can be deployed from your local host (tested with MacOS and Linux) by following the steps described below. If you cannot install Ansible, kubectl or kops on your local PC or in case your local PC is running Windows, you can create a EC2 host in Amazon AWS and run the installation from this host.

Install Ansible

Download and install Ansible - you can follow the guide from Ansible website.

Kubectl installation

Install the latest version of kubectl on Linux or MacOS:

ansible-playbook install-kubectl.yaml

You may need either --ask-sudo-pass or ansible_become_pass

Kops installation

Install the latest version of Kops utility on Linux or MacOS:

ansible-playbook install-kops.yaml

You may need either --ask-sudo-pass or ansible_become_pass

AWS Credentials

Export the AWS credentials whih will be used to authenticate with Amazon AWS:


S3 bucket for state store

Create S3 bucket to store where Kops will store its information:

ansible-playbook create-state-store.yaml

The bucket will contain also the access details for the clusters configured with Kops. It should be secured accordingly.

Install Kubernetes cluster

Create the Kubernetes cluster using Kops:

ansible-playbook create.yaml

The main configuration of the cluster is in the variables in group_vars/all/vars.yaml. Following table shows the different options.

Option Explanation Example
cluster_name Name of the cluster which should be created. The name has to end with the domain name of the DNS zone hosted in Route 53.
state_store Name of the Amazon S3 bucket which should be used as a Kops state store. It should start with s3://. s3://kops-state-store
ssh_public_key Path to the public part of the SSH key, which should be used for the SSH access to the Kubernetes hosts ~/.ssh/
aws_region AWS region where the cluster should be installed. eu-west-1
aws_zones List of availability zones in which the cluster should be installed. Must be an odd number (1, 3 or 5) of zones (at least 3 zones are needed for AWS setup accross availability zones). eu-west-1a,eu-west-1b,eu-west-1c
master_zones List of availability zones in which the master nodes should be installed. Must be an odd number (1, 3 or 5) of zones (at least 3 zones are needed for AWS setup accross availability zones). If not specified, aws_zones will be used instead eu-west-1a,eu-west-1b,eu-west-1c
dns_zone Name of the Rote 53 hosted zone. Must be reflected in the cluster name.
network_cidr A new VPC will be created. It will use the CIDR specified in this option.
topology Defines whether the cluster should be deployed into private subnet (private - more secure) with bastion host or into public subnet (public - less secure). private
kubernetes_networking Defines which networking plugin should be used in Kubernetes. Tested with Calico only. calico
master_size EC2 size of the nodes used for the Kubernetes masters (and Etcd hosts) m4.large
master_count Number of EC2 master hosts. 3
master_volume_size Size of the master disk volume in GB. 50
master_max_price Optional, max price for master spot instances. 0.05
master_profile Optional, custom master IAM role. arn:aws:iam::1234567890108:instance-profile/kops-custom-master-role
node_size EC2 size of the nodes used as workers. m4.large
node_count Number of EC2 worker hosts (initial count). 6
node_volume_size Size of the node disk volume in GB. 50
node_max_price Optional, max price for node spot instances. 0.05
node_profile Optional, custom node IAM role. arn:aws:iam::1234567890108:instance-profile/kops-custom-node-role
node_autoscaler_min Minimum number of nodes (for the autoscaler). 3
node_autoscaler_max Maximum number of nodes (for the autoscaler). 6
base_image Image used for all the instances
kubernetes_version Version of kubernetes which should be used. 1.11
iam.allow_container_registry Optional, boolean to allow read access to Amazon ECR true
iam.legacy Optional, boolean to use the legacy IAM privileges false

Additionally to the Kubernetes cluster it self, an AWS Lambda function may be created which will run periodically to tag all resources creating by Kops and by Kubernetes. To use it, a tag must be specified :

ansible-playbook create.yaml --tags "use_lambda"

It will use following tags:

  • Creator
  • Owner
  • Application
  • CostCenter
  • Product
  • Confidentiality
  • Environment

The tags are configured in also in group_vars/all/vars.yaml using following variables:

Option Explanation Example
tag_creator Value for the Creator tag MyName
tag_owner Value for the Owner tag MyName
tag_application Value for the Application tag MyApp
tag_costcenter Value for the CostCenter tag 1234
tag_product Value for the Product tag MyProduct
tag_confidentiality Value for the Confidentiality tag StrictlyConfidential
tag_environment Value for the Environment tag Development

Additionally to these tags, all resources without the Name tag will be named according to the cluster name (e.g.

Install add-ons (optional)

Currently, the supported add-ons are:

  • Kubernetes dashboard
  • Heapster for resource monitoring
  • External DNS
  • Cluster Autoscaler

To install the add-ons run

ansible-playbook addons.yaml

Install ingress (optional)

Ingress can be used route inbound traffic from the outside of the Kubernetes cluster. It can be used for SSL termination, virtual hosts, load balancing etc. For more details about ingress, go to Kubernetes website.

To install ingress controller based on Nginx, run

ansible-playbook ingress.yaml

Install the tagging lambda function (optional)

The AWS Lambda function can be used for tagging of resources created by the Kubernetes installation. To install it run:

ansible-playbook install-lambda.yaml

Updating the cluster

All updates to the running Kubernetes cluster can be done directly using Kops. The Ansible playbooks from this project only simplify the initial setup.

Deleting the cluster

To delete the cluster export the AWS credentials:


And run:

ansible-playbook delete.yaml

Deleting the tagging lambda function

If you installed the AWS Lambda for tagging, you can remove it using this command:

ansible-playbook uninstall-lambda.yaml

## Frequently Asked Questions

How to access Kuberntes Dashboard

The Kubernetes Dashboard addon is by default not exposed to the internet. This is intentional for security reasons (no authentication / authorization) and to save costs for Amazon AWS ELB load balancer.

You can access the dashboard easily fro any computer with installed and configured kubectl:

  1. From command line start kubectl proxy
  2. Go to your browser and open

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