Operating a managed Cluster

The spec.topology field added to the Cluster object as part of ClusterClass allows changes made on the Cluster to be propagated across all relevant objects. This means the Cluster object can be used as a single point of control for making changes to objects that are part of the Cluster, including the ControlPlane and MachineDeployments.

A managed Cluster can be used to:

Upgrade a Cluster

Using a managed topology the operation to upgrade a Kubernetes cluster is a one-touch operation. Let’s assume we have created a CAPD cluster with ClusterClass and specified Kubernetes v1.21.2 (as documented in the Quick Start guide). Specifying the version is done when running clusterctl generate cluster. Looking at the cluster, the version of the control plane and the MachineDeployments is v1.21.2.

> kubectl get kubeadmcontrolplane,machinedeployments
NAME                                                                              CLUSTER                   INITIALIZED   API SERVER AVAILABLE   REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   AGE     VERSION
kubeadmcontrolplane.controlplane.cluster.x-k8s.io/clusterclass-quickstart-XXXX    clusterclass-quickstart   true          true                   1          1       1         0             2m21s   v1.21.2

NAME                                                                             CLUSTER                   REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   PHASE     AGE     VERSION
machinedeployment.cluster.x-k8s.io/clusterclass-quickstart-linux-workers-XXXX    clusterclass-quickstart   1          1       1         0             Running   2m21s   v1.21.2

To update the Cluster the only change needed is to the version field under spec.topology in the Cluster object.

Change 1.21.2 to 1.22.0 as below.

kubectl patch cluster clusterclass-quickstart --type json --patch '[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/topology/version", "value": "v1.22.0"}]'

The patch will make the following change to the Cluster yaml:

   spec:
     topology:
      class: quick-start
+     version: v1.22.0
-     version: v1.21.2 

Important Note: A +2 minor Kubernetes version upgrade is not allowed in Cluster Topologies. This is to align with existing control plane providers, like KubeadmControlPlane provider, that limit a +2 minor version upgrade. Example: Upgrading from 1.21.2 to 1.23.0 is not allowed.

The upgrade will take some time to roll out as it will take place machine by machine with older versions of the machines only being removed after healthy newer versions come online.

To watch the update progress run:

watch kubectl get kubeadmcontrolplane,machinedeployments

After a few minutes the upgrade will be complete and the output will be similar to:

NAME                                                                              CLUSTER                   INITIALIZED   API SERVER AVAILABLE   REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   AGE     VERSION
kubeadmcontrolplane.controlplane.cluster.x-k8s.io/clusterclass-quickstart-XXXX    clusterclass-quickstart   true          true                   1          1       1         0             7m29s   v1.22.0

NAME                                                                             CLUSTER                   REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   PHASE     AGE     VERSION
machinedeployment.cluster.x-k8s.io/clusterclass-quickstart-linux-workers-XXXX    clusterclass-quickstart   1          1       1         0             Running   7m29s   v1.22.0

Scale a MachineDeployment

When using a managed topology scaling of MachineDeployments, both up and down, should be done through the Cluster topology.

Assume we have created a CAPD cluster with ClusterClass and Kubernetes v1.23.3 (as documented in the Quick Start guide). Initially we should have a MachineDeployment with 3 replicas. Running

kubectl get machinedeployments

Will give us:

NAME                                                            CLUSTER           REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   PHASE     AGE   VERSION
machinedeployment.cluster.x-k8s.io/capi-quickstart-md-0-XXXX   capi-quickstart   3          3       3         0             Running   21m   v1.23.3

We can scale up or down this MachineDeployment through the Cluster object by changing the replicas field under /spec/topology/workers/machineDeployments/0/replicas The 0 in the path refers to the position of the target MachineDeployment in the list of our Cluster topology. As we only have one MachineDeployment we’re targeting the first item in the list under /spec/topology/workers/machineDeployments/.

To change this value with a patch:

kubectl  patch cluster capi-quickstart --type json --patch '[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/topology/workers/machineDeployments/0/replicas",  "value": 1}]'

This patch will make the following changes on the Cluster yaml:

   spec:
     topology:
       workers:
         machineDeployments:
         - class: default-worker
           name: md-0
           metadata: {}
+          replicas: 1
-          replicas: 3

After a minute the MachineDeployment will have scaled down to 1 replica:

NAME                         CLUSTER           REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   PHASE     AGE   VERSION
capi-quickstart-md-0-XXXXX  capi-quickstart   1          1       1         0             Running   25m   v1.23.3

As well as scaling a MachineDeployment, Cluster operators can edit the labels and annotations applied to a running MachineDeployment using the Cluster topology as a single point of control.

Add a MachineDeployment

MachineDeployments in a managed Cluster are defined in the Cluster’s topology. Cluster operators can add a MachineDeployment to a living Cluster by adding it to the cluster.spec.topology.workers.machineDeployments field.

Assume we have created a CAPD cluster with ClusterClass and Kubernetes v1.23.3 (as documented in the Quick Start guide). Initially we should have a single MachineDeployment with 3 replicas. Running

kubectl get machinedeployments

Will give us:

NAME                                                            CLUSTER           REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   PHASE     AGE   VERSION
machinedeployment.cluster.x-k8s.io/capi-quickstart-md-0-XXXX   capi-quickstart   3          3       3         0             Running   21m   v1.23.3

A new MachineDeployment can be added to the Cluster by adding a new MachineDeployment spec under /spec/topology/workers/machineDeployments/. To do so we can patch our Cluster with:

kubectl  patch cluster capi-quickstart --type json --patch '[{"op": "add", "path": "/spec/topology/workers/machineDeployments/-",  "value": {"name": "second-deployment", "replicas": 1, "class": "default-worker"} }]'

This patch will make the below changes on the Cluster yaml:

   spec:
     topology:
       workers:
         machineDeployments:
         - class: default-worker
           metadata: {}
           replicas: 3
           name: md-0
+        - class: default-worker
+          metadata: {}
+          replicas: 1
+          name: second-deployment

After a minute to scale the new MachineDeployment we get:

NAME                                      CLUSTER           REPLICAS   READY   UPDATED   UNAVAILABLE   PHASE     AGE   VERSION
capi-quickstart-md-0-XXXX                 capi-quickstart   1          1       1         0             Running   39m   v1.23.3
capi-quickstart-second-deployment-XXXX    capi-quickstart   1          1       1         0             Running   99s   v1.23.3

Our second deployment uses the same underlying MachineDeployment class default-worker as our initial deployment. In this case they will both have exactly the same underlying machine templates. In order to modify the templates MachineDeployments are based on take a look at Changing a ClusterClass.

A similar process as that described here - removing the MachineDeployment from cluster.spec.topology.workers.machineDeployments - can be used to delete a running MachineDeployment from an active Cluster.

Scale a ControlPlane

When using a managed topology scaling of ControlPlane Machines, where the Cluster is using a topology that includes ControlPlane MachineInfrastructure, should be done through the Cluster topology.

This is done by changing the ControlPlane replicas field at /spec/topology/controlPlane/replica in the Cluster object. The command is:

kubectl  patch cluster capi-quickstart --type json --patch '[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/topology/controlPlane/replicas",  "value": 1}]'

This patch will make the below changes on the Cluster yaml:

   spec:
      topology:
        controlPlane:
          metadata: {}
+         replicas: 1
-         replicas: 3

As well as scaling a ControlPlane, Cluster operators can edit the labels and annotations applied to a running ControlPlane using the Cluster topology as a single point of control.

Use variables

A ClusterClass can use variables and patches in order to allow flexible customization of Clusters derived from a ClusterClass. Variable definition allows two or more Cluster topologies derived from the same ClusterClass to have different specs, with the differences controlled by variables in the Cluster topology.

Assume we have created a CAPD cluster with ClusterClass and Kubernetes v1.23.3 (as documented in the Quick Start guide). Our Cluster has a variable etcdImageTag as defined in the ClusterClass. The variable is not set on our Cluster. Some variables, depending on their definition in a ClusterClass, may need to be specified by the Cluster operator for every Cluster created using a given ClusterClass.

In order to specify the value of a variable all we have to do is set the value in the Cluster topology.

We can see the current unset variable with:

kubectl get cluster capi-quickstart -o jsonpath='{.spec.topology.variables[1]}'                                     

Which will return something like:

{"name":"etcdImageTag","value":""}

In order to run a different version of etcd in new ControlPlane machines - the part of the spec this variable sets - change the value using the below patch:

kubectl  patch cluster capi-quickstart --type json --patch '[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/topology/variables/1/value",  "value": "3.5.0"}]'

Running the patch makes the following change to the Cluster yaml:

   spec:
     topology:
       variables:
       - name: imageRepository
         value: k8s.gcr.io
       - name: etcdImageTag
         value: ""
       - name: coreDNSImageTag
+        value: "3.5.0"
-        value: ""

Retrieving the variable value from the Cluster object, with kubectl get cluster capi-quickstart -o jsonpath='{.spec.topology.variables[1]}' we can see:

{"name":"etcdImageTag","value":"3.5.0"}

Note: Changing the etcd version may have unintended impacts on a running Cluster. For safety the cluster should be reapplied after running the above variable patch.

Rebase a Cluster

To perform more significant changes using a Cluster as a single point of control, it may be necessary to change the ClusterClass that the Cluster is based on. This is done by changing the class referenced in /spec/topology/class.

To read more about changing an underlying class please refer to ClusterClass rebase.

Tips and tricks

Users should always aim at ensuring the stability of the Cluster and of the applications hosted on it while using spec.topology as a single point of control for making changes to the objects that are part of the Cluster.

Following recommendation apply:

  • If possible, avoid concurrent changes to control-plane and/or MachineDeployments to prevent excessive turnover on the underlying infrastructure or bottlenecks in the Cluster trying to move workloads from one machine to the other.
  • Keep machine labels and annotation stable, because changing those values requires machines rollouts; also, please note that machine labels and annotation are not propagated to Kubernetes nodes; see metadata propagation.
  • While upgrading a Cluster, if possible avoid any other concurrent change to the Cluster; please note that you can rely on version-aware patches to ensure the Cluster adapts to the new Kubernetes version in sync with the upgrade workflow.

For more details about how changes can affect a Cluster, please look at reference.