Extending the Kubernetes API

Kubernetes offers various ways to add custom functionalities and to modify the way built-in features work. Today I want to talk about extending Kubernetes by using custom resources and controllers. Let’s take a close look at how to do that, but first a quick story!

Why extending Kubernetes

As I mentioned in my previous post, my journey on the cloud began with Google App Engine. As a developer, I was pretty happy with the path to production of the service. The experience was (and still is) really simple, I just had to focus on the code and the SDK would take care of the whole deployment workflow. No additional work needed, the workloads scale automatically from zero and you can even manage traffic routing across multiple versions of an app using a very simplified interface.

All this comes at the expense of some restrictions. App Engine (standard) is limited to specific runtime environments and it is not a good fit for legacy or stateful applications. At some point, I started working on a project where multi-cloud was a critical aspect of the design. Deployments had to be reproducible on various cloud environments, and for that, App Engine was not so great either. So I turned myself on Kubernetes, and from there the code path to production obviously became a bit more complicated.

I think configuration files speak for themselves. While deploying a Go application to App Engine literally takes only an app.yaml file with:

runtime: go112
service: my-app

- url: /.*
  script: auto

  SOME_VAR: 'some value'

In order to deploy to Kubernetes, one has to build a container image, publish that image to a container registry and from there, create yaml manifests for a deployment, service and ingress. At the very minimum it will look something like this:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  creationTimestamp: null
    app: my-app
  name: my-app
  replicas: 1
      app: my-app
  strategy: {}
      creationTimestamp: null
        app: my-app
      - image: my-app
        name: gcr.io/my-project/my-app:v1
        - name: SOME_VAR
          vlaue: 'some value'
        resources: {}
status: {}
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  creationTimestamp: null
    app: my-app
  name: my-app
  - port: 8080
    protocol: TCP
    targetPort: 8080
    app: my-app
  type: NodePort
  loadBalancer: {}
apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  name: my-app
  - http:
      - path: /
          serviceName: my-app
          servicePort: 8080

The learning curve is higher, and yet you have a lot of additional configuration to make in order to match the feature set that App Engine offers out of the box. To get there, one must look at ways to automatically scale the application, tune the pod lifecycle using readiness and liveness probes, figure out some way to implement canary deployments, among other things.

I was pretty proud of myself when I finally felt comfortable with Kubernetes built-ins. I wanted to use Kubernetes for everything, constantly writing more and more yaml files. I’d come to a point where I really enjoyed that. At least I think so. But it probably had more to do with some kind of cognitive dissonance than the fact that I actually find writing yaml to be fun.

This became quite obvious to me the day I got my first introduction to Istio. I remember that folks around me appeared to be very pleased by the benefits it brings. I too was really impressed by the efficiency of the solution of course, but I couldn’t help myself feeling overwhelmed by the endless list of new resources and especially the new kinds added in the installation process. I mean, it took some time for me to adopt ingress and services, and now I have to add istio gateways and virtual services on top of that. As if there was not enough yaml yet.

Terry Crews says WHYYY?!

The point is, even though Kubernetes has enabled crafting reliable and repeatable deployments on various environments, we still need the simplicity of App Engine. I was curious to see how I could leverage the extension points of Kubernetes, in order to implement a deployment workflow that would be simpler to use.

The operator pattern

There are many extension points in Kubernetes, from kubectl plugins which add sub commands, to storage plugins which add new storage types. The one I want to focus on consists in:

Documentation and a lot of other useful resources can be found on this approach which is commonly known as the operator pattern.

The watcher program is called a controller and it makes use of custom resources defined in custom resource definitions or CRDs.

Defining custom resources

Here is an example of what I chose to call an Application, which I believe is a very original and clever name.

apiVersion: k8s-app-runner.aubm.net/v1
kind: Application
  name: my-app
  runtime: 'node114'
  port: 8080
  entrypoint: 'app.js'
  minReplicas: 1
  maxReplicas: 10
  - name: 'SOME_VAR'
    value: 'some value'
      gitRepositoryUrl: 'https://github.com/aubm/k8s-app-runner.git'
      root: 'sample-apps/hello-node'

Now this definitely looks more like something I could be happy with, without having to lie to myself in the mirror every morning.

Unfortunately if you were to copy this yaml and try to kubectl apply it on your cluster, it would not work. And that’s because your cluster doesn’t know about version v1 of the Application kind in a so called k8s-app-runner.aubm.net group. You can make sure of that by running kubectl api-resources.

In order to create applications in your cluster, you’ll first need to tell your cluster about this new type of resource. This is what CRDs are for. You can read a lot about the concept of custom resources in the documentation and get more details about how to create CRDs here, but in essence, this is what it looks like.

apiVersion: apiextensions.k8s.io/v1
kind: CustomResourceDefinition
  creationTimestamp: null
  name: applications.k8s-app-runner.aubm.net
  group: k8s-app-runner.aubm.net
    kind: Application
    plural: applications
    singular: application
  scope: Namespaced
  - name: v1
      openAPIV3Schema: {...}

As you can see a CRD is just another kind of resource in the Kubernetes API, which exists in the group apiextensions.k8s.io. As any other resource, it has a name and a specification. The beauty of this is that the API can be extended dynamically at runtime, without having to recompile or even restart the API server, you just kubectl apply a CRD file and you are good to create custom resources.

The example is a truncated version of the Application definition as we can see by looking at the .spec.names section. The value of .spec.scope indicates that the resources are namespaced, just like pods and deployments for example, and unlike kinds like StorageClass or CustomResourceDefinition themselves.

Obviously the biggest part of the CRD, which happens to be the portion of the yaml file that I eluded in the example, is the specification of the resource itself. You can see in .spec.versions[*].schema that it is given as an OpenAPI v3 specification, which is a standard for describing rest API resources. Using this format, we can specify the properties of an application, their type, sub properties, defaults and validation constraints. Here you can go inspect the full CRD.

Once applied in the cluster, custom resources interact nicely with standard kubectl commands. For example use kubectl explain applications.spec to navigate through the specification and its sub properties. Or use kubectl get applications, even with advanced formatting options like kubectl get applications -o custom-columns=NAME:.metadata.name, which outputs:


Implementing the controller

For better readibility, code snippets are shortened. The complete working code is accessible here on Github. It has no comments and only serves as a reference for the code examples in the article.

Custom resources are not particularly useful by themselves, some logic needs to be implemented in a dedicated controller, which is deployed in the cluster, typically in a dedicated namespace. Kubernetes ships a bunch of controllers for standard resources like the replication controller or the namespace controller.

Quoting the documentation for operators in Kubernetes.

You also implement an Operator (that is, a Controller) using any language / runtime that can act as a client for the Kubernetes API.

I chose to implement the application controller in Go, so I used the sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime package which provides tools to construct Kubernetes-style controllers.

Let’s review how to do that.

Minimal bootstrap

Below is a minimal code snippet, where I eluded the slightly verbose error management just to focus on the key steps of the controller bootstrap process.

Everything starts by creating a new Manager, which is responsible for orchestrating controllers and providing them with their shared dependencies like the API or cache clients. The NewManager factory takes a client configuration and a few other options which are left to their defaults here.

Before talking about the next step, we need to take a quick pause in order to get familiar with a new key concept. The k8s.io/apimachinery package provides tools for encoding, decoding […] Kubernetes and Kubernetes-like API objects. Among other things, it has this notion of a scheme, which is a registry of available object kinds. The sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime package makes use of a scheme to know which Go type is associated to which Kubernetes kind.

The package k8s-app-runner.aubm.net/api contains a type Application which is used for encoding/decoding the applications as defined in the CRD. The AddToScheme method is used to add the custom type to the manager scheme, which already has references to the built-in Kubernetes kinds (pods, replicasets, namespaces, etc…). We’ll go into more details about the implementation of that function later.

Then NewControllerManagedBy is used to create a controller and attach it to the manager. The controlled kind is configured using the For method. Here a new controller is created for applications. Finally, a Reconcilier is provided to Complete the initialization of the controller. The reconcilier is responsible for implementing the business logic.

Finally the manager is started. The controller starts watching for changes on the controlled resources.

import (
	ctrl "sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime"

func main() {
	mgr, _ := ctrl.NewManager(ctrl.GetConfigOrDie(), ctrl.Options{})




The reconciliation loop

The type applicationReconciler implements the Reconcilier interface, which is pretty straightforward, it only has one method which is defined as follow.

import "sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime/pkg/reconcile"

func (r ApplicationReconcilier) Reconcile(request reconcile.Request) (reconcile.Result, error) {
	log.Printf("received reconcile request for %s", request.NamespacedName)

	// do things here

	return reconcile.Result{}, nil

Each time a creation/update/deletion happens on an application, the controller executes this method. The reconcilier takes the appropriate actions to bring the system state closer than the desired state which is declared in the application specification.

What is done here mainly consists in:

Here you can go check how I’ve implemented that part.

If for some reason the method returns an error, the controller will invoke the method again, until it eventually successfully reconciles the resource. Whether or not the method succeeds, it is possible to control if and when to call the reconcilier back by setting custom values in reconcile.Result.Requeue (boolean) or reconcile.Result.RequeueAfter (standard time.Duration). No matter what, the reconcilier will be invoked again for any new events on the controlled resources. This whole process is called the reconciliation loop.

More details about the Application type

Below is the Go definition of the Application type. It is used to decode/encode all the fields of a Kubernetes application. As you see, types from metav1 are used to avoid some boilerplate code for common fields like apiVersion, kind, metadata.name, etc…

import metav1 "k8s.io/apimachinery/pkg/apis/meta/v1"

type Application struct {
	metav1.TypeMeta   `json:",inline"`
	metav1.ObjectMeta `json:"metadata,omitempty"`

	Spec   ApplicationSpec   `json:"spec,omitempty"`
	Status ApplicationStatus `json:"status,omitempty"`

type ApplicationSpec struct {
	Port        int32  `json:"port"`
	Runtime     string `json:"runtime"`
	MinReplicas int32  `json:"minReplicas"`
	MaxReplicas int32  `json:"maxReplicas"`
	Env         []Env  `json:"env"`
	Entrypoint  string `json:"entrypoint"`
	Source      struct {
		Git struct {
			GitRepositoryURL string `json:"gitRepositoryUrl"`
			Revision         string `json:"revision"`
			Root             string `json:"root,omitempty"`
		} `json:"git"`
	} `json:"source"`

type Env struct {
	Name  string `json:"name"`
	Value string `json:"value"`

type ApplicationStatus struct {
	NodePort          []int32 `json:"nodePort,omitempty"`
	AvailableReplicas int32   `json:"availableReplicas"`
	Replicas          int32   `json:"replicas"`

There is nothing much more to say about the type itself. But how does the controller associate it to the kind Application of group k8s-app-runner.aubm.net/v1?

We know that the manager makes use of scheme to know what object kinds are available, and what Go types they are associated to. Remember this instruction from the main function api.AddToScheme(mgr.GetScheme())? Now we look at what it does.

As we can see from the code below, AddToScheme is actually a reference to SchemeBuilder.AddToScheme where SchemeBuilder, as the name suggests, well … builds schemes. However we are not creating a new scheme here, instead (as mentioned earlier) AddToScheme will add the items of an yet-to-be-created scheme in an existing one. We see the group name and version provided in the GroupVersion property, but what about the Application kind?

For this, we have to look at the init function, where the SchemeBuilder.Register method is called with an instance of *Application. Under the hood, SchemeBuilder uses reflection to map the type of the argument to the kind name (which is automatically determined from the name of the Go type, that is “Application”).

import (

var (
	SchemeBuilder = &scheme.Builder{GroupVersion: schema.GroupVersion{
		Group:   "k8s-app-runner.aubm.net",
		Version: "v1",
	AddToScheme = SchemeBuilder.AddToScheme

func init() {

If we look closer at SchemeBuilder.Register, we see that it only accepts objects of type interface k8s.io/apimachinery/pkg/runtime.Object. Two methods must be implemented, the first GetObjectKind() schema.ObjectKind is done for free by embedding the metav1.TypeMeta into the Application type, the second DeepCopyObject() Object is relatively boring, we’ll see later how we can leverage code generation to avoid implementing this ourselves.

Validating admission webhooks

The OpenAPI v3 specification supports validation for field values, but it has some limitations. Let’s say that we want to reject a request that attempts to create an application where minReplicas is greater than maxReplicas.

For that, Kubernetes supports another extension point which is called validating admission webhooks. A validating webhook is an HTTP callback which is called by the Kubernetes API server before the object is persisted.

Building on the earlier bootstrap example, below is what needs to add in order to automatically register webhook endpoints for applications. The NewWebhookManagedBy method returns a webhook builder. It has a For method, which takes a k8s.io/apimachinery/pkg/runtime.Object interface. Its documentation states that if the given object implements the admission.Validator interface, a ValidatingWebhook will be wired for this type. What wired means here, is that an actual HTTP server will be started and will listen on port 9443 (which is explicitly specified in NewManager options). The path is automatically determined based on group, version and kind of the object type.

import (
	// [...]
	ctrl "sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime"

func main() {
	mrg := ctrl.NewManager(ctrl.GetConfigOrDie(), ctrl.Options{Port: 9443})

	// [...]



The admission.Validator interface is pretty simple, three methods: ValidateCreate, ValidateUpdate and ValidateDelete, must be implemented and return an error if the configuration is invalid. Here is how it is done for applications.

func (a *Application) ValidateCreate() error { return in.validate() }
func (a *Application) ValidateUpdate(old runtime.Object) error { return in.validate() }
func (a *Application) ValidateDelete() error { return nil }

func (a *Application) validate() error {
	if a.Spec.MinReplicas > a.Spec.MaxReplicas {
		return fmt.Errorf("minReplicas can not be greater than maxReplicas, minReplicas=%v maxReplicas=%v",
			a.Spec.MinReplicas, a.Spec.MaxReplicas)
	return nil

Now deploying an errored application specification, using kubectl apply, will produce an error like the one below (more on deploying webhooks later).

Error from server (minReplicas can not be greater than maxReplicas, minReplicas=10 maxReplicas=3): error when creating "my-app.yaml": admission webhook "vapplication.kb.io" denied the request: minReplicas can not be greater than maxReplicas, minReplicas=10 maxReplicas=3

Mutating admission webhooks

Mutating admission webhooks are a second type of webhooks. They are executed before validation, and are used to patch the resource. They are typically used to specify default values on created/updated resources.

The implementation is pretty similar to validating webhooks. From the previous example, there is nothing more to add in the main function. Back in the documentation for For, if the given object implements the admission.Defaulter interface, a MutatingWebhook will be wired for this type. Below is how I implemented the interface so that a new annotation is automatically added to every created/updated application.

func (a *Application) Default() {
	if a.ObjectMeta.Annotations == nil {
		a.ObjectMeta.Annotations = map[string]string{}
	a.ObjectMeta.Annotations["from-application-mutator-with-love"] = "Hello there"

Admission webhooks for core objects

In the previous examples, I used mgr.NewWebhookManagedBy to register new webhooks in a very convenient way. This works fine for custom resources, but because you can’t add methods to external Go types, you can’t use it for creating webhooks on built-in resources. If I wanted to do the same thing for pods, then I’d need to register a webhook “the hard way”. Let’s see how to do that by reviewing the below example.

Now, instead of NewWebhookManagedBy, I used GetWebhookServer to get the server and directly register webhooks to it. Registering a webhook takes a path (which has to be set manually), and a standard http.Handler. It is possible to implement the handler directly, (the documentation provides all the details about the API contract), but here I preferred using sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime/pkg/webhook.Admission which implements http.Handler, while delegating the core logic to the Handle method of applicationValidator struct, which is easier to implement.

The rest of it consists in decoding the request object, modifying it and creating a json patch, which is a []byte. Hopefully the helper function admission.PatchResponseFromRaw can help with that.

import (
	// [...]


	corev1 "k8s.io/api/core/v1"
	ctrl "sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime"

func main() {
	mgr := ctrl.NewManager(ctrl.GetConfigOrDie(), ctrl.Options{Port: 9443})
	// [...]

	hookServer := mgr.GetWebhookServer()
	hookServer.Register("/mutate-pod", &webhook.Admission{Handler: &podMutator{}})


type podMutator struct {
	decoder *admission.Decoder

func (m *podMutator) Handle(ctx context.Context, req admission.Request) admission.Response {
	pod := &corev1.Pod{}
	m.decoder.Decode(req, pod)

	if pod.Annotations == nil {
		pod.Annotations = map[string]string{}
	pod.Annotations["from-pod-mutator-with-love"] = "Hello there"

	marshaledPod := json.Marshal(pod)
	return admission.PatchResponseFromRaw(req.Object.Raw, marshaledPod)

func (m *podMutator) InjectDecoder(d *admission.Decoder) error {
	m.decoder = d
	return nil

Implementating InjectDecoder(d *admission.Decoder) error is optional. If it is implemented, an *admission.Decoder will be injected automatically. It provides helper method to decode Kubernetes-like API objects.

Fun fact: in its current implementation, Istio uses a similar approach in order to automatically inject the istio-proxy sidecar container into pods. It doesn’t use sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime though, but k8s.io/apimachinery/pkg/runtime, which is used under the hood by sigs.k8s.io/controller-runtime.

Finally, manually registering a validating webhook is quite similar to a mutating webhook. Instead the admission.Response doesn’t contain a json patch, but information about whether or not the resource is ok to be created/updated.

import (
	// [...]

func main() {
	// [...]

	hookServer.Register("/validate-pod", &webhook.Admission{Handler: &podValidator{}})

	// [...]

type podValidator struct {}

func (v *podValidator) Handle(ctx context.Context, req admission.Request) admission.Response {
	if getRandomInt() % 2 != 0 {
		return admission.Errored(http.StatusBadRequest, errors.New("bad karma"))
	return admission.Allowed("")

Go further by consulting the documentation. It provides useful information and more examples for writing an admission webhook server.

Deploying the controller

At this point, we know more about how to build a controller and run it on a local machine. But in real life, a controller runs as a pod in the cluster. To make that happen, we still have to setup a few things.

Once available as a base container image, controllers are generally deployed in their own namespace, typically using a Deploymentobject. Based on that, here is what we need.

If you want to go and directly review the manifests, you can find them here.

A service

For the Kubernetes API server to be able to successfully contact the webhooks, we need to expose our controller pod with a clusterIP service. Nothing special about that service, I chosed port 443, and the target port should be the one configured in manager options, that is 9443.

TLS configuration

The Kubernetes API server uses HTTPS when it needs to call the webhooks. For the deployment to support that, a SSL certificate (tls.crt) and key (tls.key) must be provisioned in the /tmp/k8s-webhook-server/serving-certs folder in the controller pod.

This is the default path. It can be changed by setting CertDir in the manager options.

Convenient solutions exist like Cert Manager for provisioning SSL certificates. Here I’m just using openssl to manually generate a certificate authority (CA) key pair, and use it to sign a certificate request for the controller. More on managing TLS certificates in a Kubernetes cluster here.

# Generate a key for the CA, outputs ca.key
openssl genrsa -out ca.key 2048
# Generate a certificate for the CA using ca.key, outputs in ca.crt
openssl req -x509 -new -nodes -key ca.key -subj "/CN=my-ca" -days 10000 -out ca.crt

# Generate a key for the controller, outputs tls.key
openssl genrsa -out tls.key 2048
# Generate a certificate signing request (CSR) for the controller, outputs tls.csr
openssl req -new -key tls.key -subj "/CN=k8s-app-runner-webhook-service.k8s-app-runner-system.svc" -out tls.csr
# Sign tls.csr using the CA key, outputs tls.crt
openssl x509 -req -in tls.csr -CA ca.crt -CAkey ca.key -CAcreateserial -out tls.crt -days 10000

When generating the CSR for the controller, it is important that the CN (common name) associated to the certificate matches the url that the Kubernetes API server will call, that is <serviceName>.<serviceNamespace>.<svc>. See the note in https://kubernetes.io/docs/reference/access-authn-authz/extensible-admission-controllers/#configure-admission-webhooks-on-the-fly

Once this is done, you can create a TLS secret and mount it in the controller deployment.

Webhook configuration objects

We need some way to tell the API server to invoke the webhooks for the appropriate resources and operations. Kubernetes let us configure this on the fly by creating MutatingWebhookConfiguration and ValidatingWebhookConfiguration objects.

Examples can be found in the documentation, a couple attention points are worth mentionning.

  1. webhooks[*].clientConfig.service.port is where you configure the port of the service configured in front of the controller deployment. By default, the API server uses port 443, which is the one I configured ealier.
  2. webhooks[*].clientConfig.caBundle is where you configure the CA certificate used to sign the controller CSR. It must be a base64 encoding of the certificate in pem format. Based on the previous commands, you can get it by running the below commands.
openssl x509 -in ca.crt -out ca.crt.pem
cat ca.crt.pem | base64

One more thing, if you’ve taken a look at the complete manifests, you may have noticed this extra configuration. This is done to prevent the pod mutating webhook from intercepting its own creation, which would result in a deadlock. More on that here.

RBAC configuration

When running outside of the cluster, the controller uses the local kubeconfig. When running in the cluster, the controller must be granted the appropriate permissions to create/update/delete/list/watch the desired resources.

You can consult the documentation to get more information about role based access control (RBAC) in Kubernetes, or you can check the configured cluster role and cluster role binding for our example controller.

Go faster with controller-gen

Now we are all set! You might think that it took quite a lot of work to get there. Writing the CRD, the RBAC configuration and the webhooks configuration is indeed really time consuming, especially given the fact that you have to keep them in sync with the actual code. Besides, if you remember the backstory, the whole point of this was to write less yaml!

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this all by hand, instead you can use code generation. This Github repository here hosts a tool called controller-gen. It uses comment markers to extract information from the code, and automatically generate yaml files, or even some boilerplate code.

You can install controller-gen by running the below command. Also make sure to add "$(go env GOPATH)/bin" to your system PATH.

GO111MODULE=on go get -v sigs.k8s.io/controller-tools/cmd/controller-gen
controller-gen --version

The runtime.Object interface

If you remember earlier, I mentionned a way to generate the DeepCopyObject method, required by the Application type to implement the runtime.Object interface. Here is how to do it using controller-gen.

In the file where Application is declared, annotate Application with the comment marker // +kubebuilder:object:root=true placed on top of the type declaration. Because of this annotation, controller-gen understands that the type is meant to be used as a runtime.Object and so it will add the DeepCopyObject method to it. Because of the way controller-gen implements the method, additional methods also must be added on non-scalar Application properties and their sub-properties. To make that happen, each type declaration can be annotation with a // +kubebuilder:object:generate=true comment marker, alternatively a single one can be placed at package level, as in the example below.

// +kubebuilder:object:generate=true
package api

// [...]

// +kubebuilder:object:root=true
type Application struct {
	// [...]

// [...]

Now run controller-gen object paths="." and let controller-gen generate the boilerplate code for you.

One can use go generate or a tool like make in order to integrate it more naturally in the build process.

The content is generated in a file named zz_generated.deepcopy.go (which of course should not be edited), go check the result here to see what it looks like.

More details about Object/DeepCopy markers in the documentations here.

Generate CRDs

CRDs can be generated by controller-gen. But first, some minor adjustments need to be made in the Application type declaration. Because CRDs generation with controller-gen doesn’t support nested fields with anonymous type, Application needs to be broken down as follow:

type ApplicationSpec struct {
	// [...]
	Source      ApplicationSource `json:"source"`

type ApplicationSource struct {
	Git ApplicationSourceGit `json:"git"`

type ApplicationSourceGit struct {
	GitRepositoryURL string `json:"gitRepositoryUrl"`
	Revision         string `json:"revision"`
	Root             string `json:"root,omitempty"`

Then comment markers must be added at package level in order to specify the group and version.

// +groupName=k8s-app-runner.aubm.net
// +versionName=v1
package api

If not specified, versionName will use the go package name by default. A good pattern consists in structuring the code under a tree like api/v1/types.go. That way, it is easier to add new versions, and a bit less configuration is required for generating CRDs.

Now from the root directory, run controller-gen crd paths="./..." and get the CRDs generated under the config directory. Get more options (like CRDs version, or output path) by checking controller-gen --help, also go and read the documentation to learn how to customise CRDs by adding validation rules or short names:

Generate RBAC

Generating RBAC works the same way, documentation for markers is available here. Generally a good idea is to place them next to the controller code, that needs the permissions. The example below will add permissions to get, list, watch, update, patch and delete applications, and also get, update and patch an application’s status.

Generate a ClusterRole named manager-role by running controller-gen rbac:roleName=manager-role paths="./...".

// +kubebuilder:rbac:groups=k8s-app-runner.aubm.net,resources=applications,verbs=get;list;watch;create;update;patch;delete
// +kubebuilder:rbac:groups=k8s-app-runner.aubm.net,resources=applications/status,verbs=get;update;patch

func (r ApplicationReconcilier) Reconcile(request reconcile.Request) (reconcile.Result, error) {
	// [...]


Finally, controller-gen has support for generating webhooks definition files. There again, documentation is available here. In the example below you can see how to write a marker to generate a MutatingWebhookConfiguration with the command controller-gen webhook paths="./...".

// +kubebuilder:webhook:path=/mutate-k8s-app-runner-aubm-net-v1-application,mutating=true,failurePolicy=fail,groups=k8s-app-runner.aubm.net,resources=applications,verbs=create;update,versions=v1,name=mapplication.kb.io

func (a *Application) Default() {
	// [...]


And that’s about it! You’ve seen everything you need to start creating your own operator. Congratulations and thank you for making it through here!

Before you go, you might want to hear about Kubebuilder. Kuberbuilder is a framework for extending the Kubernetes API with custom resources and controllers. You really want to consider using it for your next operator. What it does essentially, is scaffolding a project with all the pieces from controller-runtime and controller-gen put together, so that you can get started right away with coding.

Take a look at the documentation here and don’t hesitage to join the very welcoming community on the #kubebuilder channel on kubernetes.slack.com!

What else can an operator do?

The Kubernetes documentation mention a few examples of what an operator can do.

From deploying an application on demand to orchestrating distributed stateful systems like Elasticsearch or Apache Spark, operators can do a lot. Projects like Istio or Knative are great examples, but more can be found on OperatorHub.io, which is a dedicated portal for reusable operators.

Useful resources

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