Management cluster setup

Setting up a management cluster on Google Cloud

This guide describes how to setup a management cluster which you will use to deploy one or more instances of Kubeflow.

The management cluster is used to run Cloud Config Connector. Cloud Config Connector is a Kubernetes addon that allows you to manage Google Cloud resources through Kubernetes.

While the management cluster can be deployed in the same project as your Kubeflow cluster, typically you will want to deploy it in a separate project used for administering one or more Kubeflow instances, because it will run with escalated permissions to create Google Cloud resources in the managed projects.

Optionally, the cluster can be configured with Anthos Config Management to manage Google Cloud infrastructure using GitOps.


  • Where is kfctl?

    kfctl is no longer being used to apply resources for Google Cloud, because required functionalities are now supported by generic tools including Make, Kustomize, kpt, and Cloud Config Connector.

  • Why do we use an extra management cluster to manage Google Cloud resources?

    The management cluster is very lightweight cluster that runs Cloud Config Connector. Cloud Config Connector makes it easier to configure Google Cloud resources using YAML and Kustomize.

For a more detailed explanation of the drastic changes happened in Kubeflow v1.1 on Google Cloud, read kubeflow/gcp-blueprints #123.

Install the required tools

  1. Install gcloud components

    gcloud components install kubectl kpt anthoscli beta
    gcloud components update
  2. Install Kustomize.

    Note: Starting from Kubeflow v1.2, we fixed the compatibility problem with Kustomize v3.2.1+, so you can now install any Kustomize v3+, including the latest Kustomize versions.

    To deploy the latest version of Kustomize on a Linux or Mac machine, run the following commands:

    # Detect your OS and download corresponding latest Kustomize binary
    curl -s ""  | bash
    # Add the kustomize package to your $PATH env variable
    sudo mv ./kustomize /usr/local/bin/kustomize

    Then, to verify the installation, run kustomize version. You should see Version:kustomize/vX.Y.Z in the output if you’ve successfully deployed Kustomize.

  3. Follow the instructions in the yq repository to install yq v3.

    Note: The Kubeflow deployment process is not compatible with yq v4 or later. Learn more about the changes from yq v3 to v4.

Environment Variables

This guide assumes the following convention:

  • The ${MGMT_PROJECT} environment variable contains the Google Cloud project ID where management cluster is deployed to.

  • The ${MGMT_DIR} environment variable contains the path to your management directory, which holds your management cluster configuration files. For example, ~/kf-deployments/management/. You can choose any path you would like for the directory ${MGMT_DIR}.

    To continously manage the management cluster, you are recommended to check the management configuration directory into source control.

  • ${MGMT_NAME} is the cluster name of your management cluster and the prefix for other Google Cloud resources created in the deployment process. Management cluster should be a different cluster from your Kubeflow cluster.

    Note, ${MGMT_NAME} should

    • start with a lowercase letter
    • only contain lowercase letters, numbers and -
    • end with a number or a letter
    • contain no more than 18 characters
  • The ${LOCATION} environment variable contains the location of your management cluster. you can choose between regional or zonal.

Set these environment variables in your shell:

MGMT_PROJECT=<the project where you deploy your management cluster>
MGMT_DIR=<path to your management cluster configuration directory>
MGMT_NAME=<name of your management cluster>
LOCATION=<location of your management cluster>

However, the environment variables are used purely for command illustration purpose. No tools will assume they actually exists in your terminal environment.

Setting up a management cluster

To deploy a management cluster:

  1. Fetch the management blueprint to current directory

    kpt pkg get "${MGMT_DIR}"
  2. Change to the Kubeflow directory

    cd "${MGMT_DIR}"

    Note, all the instructions below assume your current working directory is ${MGMT_DIR}.

  3. Fetch the upstream management package

    make get-pkg
  4. Use kpt to set values for the name, project, and location of your management cluster:

    kpt cfg set -R . name "${MGMT_NAME}"
    kpt cfg set -R . gcloud.core.project "${MGMT_PROJECT}"
    kpt cfg set -R . location "${LOCATION}"

    Running kpt cfg set stores values you set in ./instance/Kptfile and ./upstream/management/Kptfile. Commit the changes to source control to preserve your configuration.

    We have two packages with setters: ./instance and ./upstream/management. The -R flag means --recurse-subpackages. It sets values recursively in all the nested subpackages in current directory . in one command.

    You can learn more about kpt cfg set in kpt documentation, or by running kpt cfg set --help.

    Note, you can find out which setters exist in a package and what their current values are by running the following command:

    kpt cfg list-setters .
  5. Create or apply the management cluster:

    make apply-cluster

    Optionally, you can verify the management cluster spec before applying it by:

    make hydrate-cluster

    and look into ./build/cluster folder.

  6. Create a kubectl context for the management cluster, it will be named ${MGMT_NAME}:

    make create-context
  7. Install the Cloud Config Connector:

    make apply-kcc

    This step:

    • Installs Config Connector in your cluster, and
    • Creates the Google Cloud service account ${MGMT_NAME}-cnrm-system@${MGMT_PROJECT}

    Optionally, you can verify the Config Connector installation before applying it by:

    make hydrate-kcc

    and check ./build/cnrm-install-* folders.

Authorize Cloud Config Connector for each managed project

In the last step we created the Google Cloud service account ${MGMT_NAME}-cnrm-system@${MGMT_PROJECT} this is the service account that Config Connector will use to create any Google Cloud resources. Consequently you need to grant this Google Cloud service account sufficient privileges to create the desired resources in one or more projects (called managed projects, read more).

The easiest way to do this is to grant the Google Cloud service account owner permissions on one or more projects.

  1. Set the managed project:

    kpt cfg set ./instance managed-project "${MANAGED_PROJECT}"
  2. Update the policy:

    gcloud beta anthos apply ./instance/managed-project/iam.yaml

    Optionally, to restrict permissions you want to grant to this service account. You can edit ./instance/managed-project/iam.yaml and specify more granular roles. Refer to IAMPolicy Config Connector reference for exact fields you can set.

Understanding the deployment process

This section gives you more details about the configuration and deployment process, so that you can customize your management cluster if necessary.

Management cluster folder layout

Your management cluster directory contains the following files and directories:

  • Makefile is a file that defines rules to automate deployment process. You can refer to GNU make documentation for more introduction. The Makefile we provide is designed to be user maintainable. You are encouraged to read, edit and maintain it to suit your own deployment customization needs.

  • upstream is a directory containing kustomize packages for deploying your management cluster. This directory contains the upstream configurations on which your deployment is based on.

  • instance is a directory that defines user overlays that are applied to the upstream configurations in order to customize management cluster for your use case.

    • cluster is a kustomize package defining all the Google Cloud resources needed using gcloud beta anthos apply. It can apply some Google Cloud resource types using the same resource definition for Config Connector. You can edit this kustomize package in order to customize the Google Cloud resources for your purposes.

    • cnrm-install-* folders contain kustomize packages for Google Cloud services, iam policies and Kubernetes resources to install Config Connector following Advanced installation options for Config Connector.

  • build is a directory that will contain the hydrated manifests outputted by the make rules

Layout rationale

We explicitly separate upstream and instance folders, so that in most upgrades, you should be able to just re-fetch upstream folder and get all the upgrades without needing to change your customizations in instance folder.

Customizing the installation

Once you understand the folder layout, it’s clearer that to declaratively customize any resources declared in ./upstream folder, you can edit Kustomize overlays in ./instance folder.

The following tips help you customize, verify and re-apply them to your cluster.

Some useful links for Kustomize:

To get detailed reference for Google Cloud resources, refer to Config Connector resources reference.

To verify whether hydrated resources match your expectation:

make hydrate-cluster
# or
make hydrate-kcc

and refer to hydrated resources in ./build/*.

To apply your customizations:

make apply-cluster
# or
make apply-kcc

Note that, some fields in some resources may be immutable. You may need to manually delete them before applying again.