I recently had to create a demo for a continous deployment pipeline via Azure DevOps that was capable of executing the kpack cli across kubernetes clusters on all the major public clouds (AKS, GKE, and EKS). This was slightly annoying because each cloud provider users their own authentication mechanisms, which would have been a pain to handle individually.

Instead - I decided to create a k8s service account on each cluster and use that so that it was consitent across platforms. I had tried this several years ago as a “break the glass” scenario for EKS after I broke one of our clusters messing with the aws-iam-authenticator, but never had much luck. I finally got this working and decided to document it. I’ll also include the commands you can run to create a kubeconfig file via command line to help in a pipeline if you have to do it like I did.

Caution: This will create an admin service account. I’d highly suggest scoping it to the action your service account needs, and storing the credentials in a secure way. You have been warned.


The overall steps are:

  1. Create a Service Account and map it to cluster-admin
  2. Gather the Token, Certificate Authority, and API endpoint from the cluster
  3. Create a kubeconfig file using kubectl

Since this was for azure-pipelines - we’ll use that as the service account name and cluster role binding. Feel free to change as needed for your use case.

First, we create the service account:

kubectl -n kube-system create serviceaccount azure-pipelines

Next, we create the cluster role binding and map it to the cluster-admin

kubectl create clusterrolebinding azure-pipelines-cb --clusterrole=cluster-admin --serviceaccount=kube-system:azure-pipelines

Next - extract the name of the token that was create for the service account

TOKENNAME=`kubectl -n kube-system get serviceaccount/azure-pipelines -o jsonpath='{.secrets[0].name}'`

Then - get the token from the service account

TOKEN=`kubectl -n kube-system get secret $TOKENNAME -o jsonpath='{.data.token}'| base64 --decode`

Then - we’ll grab the certificate authority cert so that kubectl can trust the certificate from the cluster

CACRT=$(kubectl -n kube-system get secret $TOKENNAME -o jsonpath='{\.crt}' | base64 --decode)

You will also need the K8S API endpoint. I won’t go through getting that because it’s different for each provider. I’ll assume you know how to get it since you’ve already used kubectl above :)

Now that we have all the information we need, we can create a kubeconfig file.

Set the endpoint for the cluster config.

kubectl config set-cluster demo --server=<api endpoint>

Now - add the token.

kubectl config set-credentials azure-pipelines --token=$TOKEN

And the user:

kubectl config set-context demo --user=azure-pipelines --cluster=demo

Finally - add the certificate authority certificate

kubectl config set-cluster demo --embed-certs --certificate-authority <(echo $CACRT)

Now your context should be ready to use!

kubectl config use-context demo