Using clusterawsadm to fulfill prerequisites


  • Linux or MacOS (Windows isn’t supported at the moment).
  • AWS credentials.
  • jq

IAM resources

With clusterawsadm

Get the latest clusterawsadm and place it in your path.

Cluster API Provider AWS ships with clusterawsadm, a utility to help you manage IAM objects for this project.

In order to use clusterawsadm you must have an administrative user in an AWS account. Once you have that administrator user you need to set your environment variables:

  • AWS_SESSION_TOKEN (if you are using Multi-factor authentication)

After these are set run this command to get you up and running:

clusterawsadm bootstrap iam create-cloudformation-stack

Additional policies can be added by creating a configuration file

kind: AWSIAMConfiguration
      - arn:aws:iam::<AWS_ACCOUNT>:policy/my-policy
      - arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/AmazonEC2FullAccess
      - arn:aws:iam::<AWS_ACCOUNT>:policy/my-other-policy

and passing it to clusterawsadm as follows

clusterawsadm bootstrap iam create-cloudformation-stack --config bootstrap-config.yaml

These will be added to the control plane and node roles respectively when they are created.

Note: If you used the now deprecated clusterawsadm alpha bootstrap 0.5.4 or earlier to create IAM objects for the Cluster API Provider for AWS, using clusterawsadm bootstrap iam 0.5.5 or later will, by default, remove the bootstrap user and group. Anything using those credentials to authenticate will start experiencing authentication failures. If you rely on the bootstrap user and group credentials, specify bootstrapUser.enable = true in the configuration file, like this:

kind: AWSIAMConfiguration
    enable: true

With EKS Support

The pre-requisities for EKS are enabled by default. However, if you want to use some of the optional features of EKS (see here for more information on what these are) then you will need to enable these features via the configuration file. For example:

kind: AWSIAMConfiguration
    iamRoleCreation: false # Set to true if you plan to use the EKSEnableIAM feature flag to enable automatic creation of IAM roles
      disable: false # Set to false to enable creation of the default node role for managed machine pools
      disable: false # Set to false to enable creation of the default role for the fargate profiles

and then use that configuration file:

clusterawsadm bootstrap iam create-cloudformation-stack --config bootstrap-config.yaml

Enabling EventBridge Events

To enable EventBridge instance state events, additional permissions must be granted along with enabling the feature-flag. Additional permissions for events and queue management can be enabled through the configuration file as follows:

kind: AWSIAMConfiguration
    enable: true

Cross Account Role Assumption

CAPA, by default, does not provide the necessary permissions to allow cross-account role assumption, which can be used to manage clusters in other environments. This is documented here. The ‘sts:AssumeRole’ permissions can be added via the following configuration on the manager account configuration:

kind: AWSIAMConfiguration
  allowAssumeRole: true

The above will give the controller to have the necessary permissions needed in order for it to manage clusters in other accounts using the AWSClusterRoleIdentity. Please note, the above should only be applied to the account where CAPA is running. To allow CAPA to assume the roles in the managed/target accounts, the following configuration needs to be used:

kind: AWSIAMConfiguration
    disabled: false
    - Action:
      - "sts:AssumeRole"
      Effect: "Allow"
        - "arn:aws:iam::<manager account>:role/"

Without clusterawsadm

This is not a recommended route as the policies are very specific and will change with new features.

If you do not wish to use the clusteradwsadm tool then you will need to understand exactly which IAM policies and groups we are expecting. There are several policies, roles and users that need to be created. Please see our controller policy file to understand the permissions that are necessary.

You can use clusteradwadm to print out the needed IAM policies, e.g.

clusterawsadm bootstrap iam print-policy --document AWSIAMManagedPolicyControllers --config bootstrap-config.yaml

SSH Key pair

If you plan to use SSH to access the instances created by Cluster API Provider AWS then you will need to specify the name of an existing SSH key pair within the region you plan on using. If you don’t have one yet, a new one needs to be created.

Create a new key pair

# Save the output to a secure location
aws ec2 create-key-pair --key-name default --output json | jq .KeyMaterial -r
[... contents omitted ...]

If you want to save the private key directly into AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store with KMS encryption for security, you can use the following command:

aws ssm put-parameter --name "/" \
  --type SecureString \
  --value "$(aws ec2 create-key-pair --key-name default --output json | jq .KeyMaterial -r)"

Adding an existing public key to AWS

# Replace with your own public key
aws ec2 import-key-pair \
  --key-name default \
  --public-key-material "$(cat ~/.ssh/"

NB: Only RSA keys are supported by AWS.

Setting up the environment

The current iteration of the Cluster API Provider AWS relies on credentials being present in your environment. These then get written into the cluster manifests for use by the controllers.


export AWS_REGION=us-east-1 # This is used to help encode your environment variables
export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=<your-access-key>
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=<your-secret-access-key>
export AWS_SESSION_TOKEN=<session-token> # If you are using Multi-Factor Auth.

Note: The credentials used must have the appropriate permissions for use by the controllers. You can get the required policy statement by using the following command:

clusterawsadm bootstrap iam print-policy --document AWSIAMManagedPolicyControllers --config bootstrap-config.yaml

To save credentials securely in your environment, aws-vault uses the OS keystore as permanent storage, and offers shell features to securely expose and setup local AWS environments.