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EKS Fully-Private Cluster

eksctl supports creation of fully-private clusters that have no outbound internet access and have only private subnets. VPC endpoints are used to enable private access to AWS services.

This guide describes how to create a private cluster without outbound internet access.

Creating a fully-private cluster

The only required field to create a fully-private cluster is privateCluster.enabled:

privateCluster:
  enabled: true

Note

Post cluster creation, not all eksctl commands will be supported, especially commands that need access to the Kubernetes API server. Creating managed nodegroups will continue to work, however, creating self-managed nodegroups will not work as it needs access to the API server. Even if the command is run from within the cluster's VPC, a peered VPC or using some other means like AWS Direct Connect, some commands may fail because they'll need private access to the EKS API (DescribeCluster), and the AWS EKS service does not offer an interface endpoint. If your setup can reach the EKS API server endpoint via its private address, and has outbound internet access (for EKS:DescribeCluster), all eksctl commands should work.

Note

VPC endpoints are charged by the hour and based on usage. More details about pricing can be found at AWS PrivateLink pricing

Configuring private access to additional AWS services

To enable worker nodes to access AWS services privately, eksctl creates VPC endpoints for the following services:

  • Interface endpoints for ECR (both ecr.api and ecr.dkr) to pull container images (AWS CNI plugin etc)
  • A gateway endpoint for S3 to pull the actual image layers
  • An interface endpoint for EC2 required by the aws-cloud-provider integration
  • An interface endpoint for STS to support Fargate and IAM Roles for Services Accounts (IRSA)
  • An interface endpoint for CloudWatch logging (logs) if CloudWatch logging is enabled

These VPC endpoints are essential for a functional private cluster, and as such, eksctl does not support configuring or disabling them. However, a cluster might need private access to other AWS services (e.g., Autoscaling required by the Cluster Autoscaler). These services can be specified in privateCluster.additionalEndpointServices, which instructs eksctl to create a VPC endpoint for each of them.

For example, to allow private access to Autoscaling and CloudWatch logging:

privateCluster:
  enabled: true
  additionalEndpointServices:
  # For Cluster Autoscaler
  - "autoscaling"
  # CloudWatch logging
  - "log"

The endpoints supported in additionalEndpointServices are autoscaling, cloudformation and logs.

Nodegroups

Only private nodegroups (both managed and self-managed) are supported in a fully-private cluster because the cluster's VPC is created without any public subnets. The privateNetworking field (nodeGroup[*].privateNetworking and managedNodeGroup[*].privateNetworking) must be explicitly set. It is an error to leave privateNetworking unset in a fully-private cluster.

``yaml nodeGroups: - name: ng1 instanceType: m5.large desiredCapacity: 2 # privateNetworking must be explicitly set for a fully-private cluster # Rather than defaulting this field totrue` for a fully-private cluster, we require users to explicitly set it # to make the behaviour explicit and avoid confusion. privateNetworking: true

managedNodeGroups: - name: m1 instanceType: m5.large desiredCapacity: 2 privateNetworking: true

## Cluster Endpoint Access
A fully-private cluster does not support modifying `clusterEndpointAccess` during cluster creation.
It is an error to set either `clusterEndpoints.publicAccess` or `clusterEndpoints.privateAccess`, as a fully-private cluster
can have private access only, and allowing modification of these fields can break the cluster.


## User-supplied VPC and subnets
eksctl supports creation of fully-private clusters using a pre-existing VPC and subnets. Only private subnets can be
specified and it's an error to specify subnets under `vpc.subnets.public`.

eksctl creates VPC endpoints in the supplied VPC and modifies route tables for the supplied subnets. Each subnet should
have an explicit route table associated with it because eksctl does not modify the main route table.

```yaml
apiVersion: eksctl.io/v1alpha5
kind: ClusterConfig

metadata:
  name: private-cluster
  region: us-west-2

privateCluster:
  enabled: true
  additionalEndpointServices:
  - "autoscaling"

vpc:
  subnets:
    private:
      us-west-2b:
        id: subnet-0818beec303f8419b
      us-west-2c:
        id: subnet-0d42ef09490805e2a
      us-west-2d:
        id: subnet-0da7418077077c5f9


nodeGroups:
- name: ng1
  instanceType: m5.large
  desiredCapacity: 2
  # privateNetworking must be explicitly set for a fully-private cluster
  # Rather than defaulting this field to true for a fully-private cluster, we require users to explicitly set it
  # to make the behaviour explicit and avoid confusion.
  privateNetworking: true

managedNodeGroups:
- name: m1
  instanceType: m5.large
  desiredCapacity: 2
  privateNetworking: true

Managing a fully-private cluster

For all commands to work post cluster creation, eksctl will need private access to the EKS API server endpoint, and outbound internet access (for EKS:DescribeCluster). Commands that do not need access to the API server will be supported if eksctl has outbound internet access.

Limitations

A limitation of the current implementation is that eksctl initially creates the cluster with both public and private endpoint access enabled, and disables public endpoint access after all operations have completed. This is required because eksctl needs access to the Kubernetes API server to allow self-managed nodes to join the cluster and to support GitOps and Fargate. After these operations have completed, eksctl switches the cluster endpoint access to private-only. This additional update does mean that creation of a fully-private cluster will take longer than for a standard cluster. In the future, eksctl may switch to a VPC-enabled Lambda function to perform these API operations.

Further information