Adding EKS clusters

GitLab supports adding new and existing EKS clusters.

EKS requirements

Before creating your first cluster on Amazon EKS with GitLab’s integration, make sure the following requirements are met:

Additional requirements for self-managed instances

If you are using a self-managed GitLab instance, GitLab must first be configured with a set of Amazon credentials. These credentials will be used to assume an Amazon IAM role provided by the user creating the cluster. Create an IAM user and ensure it has permissions to assume the role(s) that your users will use to create EKS clusters.

For example, the following policy document allows assuming a role whose name starts with gitlab-eks- in account 123456789012:

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": {
    "Effect": "Allow",
    "Action": "sts:AssumeRole",
    "Resource": "arn:aws:iam::123456789012:role/gitlab-eks-*"

Generate an access key for the IAM user, and configure GitLab with the credentials:

  1. Navigate to Admin Area > Settings > Integrations and expand the Amazon EKS section.
  2. Check Enable Amazon EKS integration.
  3. Enter the account ID and access key credentials into the respective Account ID, Access key ID and Secret access key fields.
  4. Click Save changes.

New EKS cluster

Introduced in GitLab 12.5.

To create and add a new Kubernetes cluster to your project, group, or instance:

  1. Navigate to your:
    • Project’s Operations > Kubernetes page, for a project-level cluster.
    • Group’s Kubernetes page, for a group-level cluster.
    • Admin Area > Kubernetes, for an instance-level cluster.
  2. Click Add Kubernetes cluster.
  3. Under the Create new cluster tab, click Amazon EKS. You will be provided with an Account ID and External ID to use in the next step.
  4. In the IAM Management Console, create an IAM role:
    1. From the left panel, select Roles.
    2. Click Create role.
    3. Under Select type of trusted entity, select Another AWS account.
    4. Enter the Account ID from GitLab into the Account ID field.
    5. Check Require external ID.
    6. Enter the External ID from GitLab into the External ID field.
    7. Click Next: Permissions.
    8. Click Create Policy, which will open a new window.
    9. Select the JSON tab, and paste in the following snippet in place of the existing content:

          "Version": "2012-10-17",
          "Statement": [
                  "Effect": "Allow",
                  "Action": [
                  "Resource": "*"
      Note: These permissions give GitLab the ability to create resources, but not delete them. This means that if an error is encountered during the creation process, changes will not be rolled back and you must remove resources manually. You can do this by deleting the relevant CloudFormation stack
    10. Click Review policy.
    11. Enter a suitable name for this policy, and click Create Policy. You can now close this window.
    12. Switch back to the “Create role” window, and select the policy you just created.
    13. Click Next: Tags, and optionally enter any tags you wish to associate with this role.
    14. Click Next: Review.
    15. Enter a role name and optional description into the fields provided.
    16. Click Create role, the new role name will appear at the top. Click on its name and copy the Role ARN from the newly created role.
  5. In GitLab, enter the copied role ARN into the Role ARN field.
  6. Click Authenticate with AWS.
  7. Choose your cluster’s settings:
    • Kubernetes cluster name - The name you wish to give the cluster.
    • Environment scope - The associated environment to this cluster.
    • Kubernetes version - The Kubernetes version to use. Currently the only version supported is 1.14.
    • Role name - Select the IAM role to allow Amazon EKS and the Kubernetes control plane to manage AWS resources on your behalf. This IAM role is separate to the IAM role created above, you will need to create it if it does not yet exist.
    • Region - The region in which the cluster will be created.
    • Key pair name - Select the key pair that you can use to connect to your worker nodes if required.
    • VPC - Select a VPC to use for your EKS Cluster resources.
    • Subnets - Choose the subnets in your VPC where your worker nodes will run.
    • Security group - Choose the security group to apply to the EKS-managed Elastic Network Interfaces that are created in your worker node subnets.
    • Instance type - The instance type of your worker nodes.
    • Node count - The number of worker nodes.
    • GitLab-managed cluster - Leave this checked if you want GitLab to manage namespaces and service accounts for this cluster. See the Managed clusters section for more information.
  8. Finally, click the Create Kubernetes cluster button.

After about 10 minutes, your cluster will be ready to go. You can now proceed to install some pre-defined applications.

Note: You will need to add your AWS external ID to the IAM Role in the AWS CLI to manage your cluster using kubectl.

Existing EKS cluster

To add an existing EKS cluster to your project, group, or instance:

  1. Perform the following steps on the EKS cluster:
    1. Retrieve the certificate. A valid Kubernetes certificate is needed to authenticate to the EKS cluster. We will use the certificate created by default. Open a shell and use kubectl to retrieve it:

      1. List the secrets with kubectl get secrets, and one should named similar to default-token-xxxxx. Copy that token name for use below.
      2. Get the certificate with:

        kubectl get secret <secret name> -o jsonpath="{['data']['ca\.crt']}" | base64 --decode
    2. Create admin token. A cluster-admin token is required to install and manage Helm Tiller. GitLab establishes mutual SSL authentication with Helm Tiller and creates limited service accounts for each application. To create the token we will create an admin service account as follows:

      1. Create a file called eks-admin-service-account.yaml with contents:

        apiVersion: v1
        kind: ServiceAccount
          name: eks-admin
          namespace: kube-system
      2. Apply the service account to your cluster:

        $ kubectl apply -f eks-admin-service-account.yaml
        serviceaccount "eks-admin" created
      3. Create a file called eks-admin-cluster-role-binding.yaml with contents:

        kind: ClusterRoleBinding
          name: eks-admin
          kind: ClusterRole
          name: cluster-admin
        - kind: ServiceAccount
          name: eks-admin
          namespace: kube-system
      4. Apply the cluster role binding to your cluster:

        $ kubectl apply -f eks-admin-cluster-role-binding.yaml
        clusterrolebinding "eks-admin" created
      5. Retrieve the token for the eks-admin service account:

        kubectl -n kube-system describe secret $(kubectl -n kube-system get secret | grep eks-admin | awk '{print $1}')

        Copy the <authentication_token> value from the output:

        Name:         eks-admin-token-b5zv4
        Namespace:    kube-system
        Labels:       <none>
        ca.crt:     1025 bytes
        namespace:  11 bytes
        token:      <authentication_token>
    3. Locate the API server endpoint so GitLab can connect to the cluster. This is displayed on the AWS EKS console, when viewing the EKS cluster details.

  2. Navigate to your:
    • Project’s Operations > Kubernetes page, for a project-level cluster.
    • Group’s Kubernetes page, for a group-level cluster.
    • Admin Area > Kubernetes page, for an instance-level cluster.
  3. Click Add Kubernetes cluster.
  4. Click the Add existing cluster tab and fill in the details:
    • Kubernetes cluster name: A name for the cluster to identify it within GitLab.
    • Environment scope: Leave this as * for now, since we are only connecting a single cluster.
    • API URL: The API server endpoint retrieved earlier.
    • CA Certificate: The certificate data from the earlier step, as-is.
    • Service Token: The admin token value.
    • For project-level clusters, Project namespace prefix: This can be left blank to accept the default namespace, based on the project name.
  5. Click on Add Kubernetes cluster. The cluster is now connected to GitLab.

At this point, Kubernetes deployment variables will automatically be available during CI/CD jobs, making it easy to interact with the cluster.

If you would like to utilize your own CI/CD scripts to deploy to the cluster, you can stop here.

Create a default Storage Class

Amazon EKS doesn’t have a default Storage Class out of the box, which means requests for persistent volumes will not be automatically fulfilled. As part of Auto DevOps, the deployed PostgreSQL instance requests persistent storage, and without a default storage class it will fail to start.

If a default Storage Class doesn’t already exist and is desired, follow Amazon’s guide on storage classes to create one.

Alternatively, disable PostgreSQL by setting the project variable POSTGRES_ENABLED to false.

Deploy the app to EKS

With RBAC disabled and services deployed, Auto DevOps can now be leveraged to build, test, and deploy the app.

Enable Auto DevOps if not already enabled. If a wildcard DNS entry was created resolving to the Load Balancer, enter it in the domain field under the Auto DevOps settings. Otherwise, the deployed app will not be externally available outside of the cluster.

Deploy Pipeline

A new pipeline will automatically be created, which will begin to build, test, and deploy the app.

After the pipeline has finished, your app will be running in EKS and available to users. Click on CI/CD > Environments.

Deployed Environment

You will see a list of the environments and their deploy status, as well as options to browse to the app, view monitoring metrics, and even access a shell on the running pod.