OPA (Open Policy Agent)/ Rego : Part-7: Kubernetes Custom Resource Definition (CRD) and OPA Gatekeeper

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Deploying Open Policy Agent (OPA) on a GKE cluster — Step by Step | by W  Bessovi | LINKBYNET | Medium

Custom Resources

custom resource is an extension of the Kubernetes API that is not necessarily available in a default Kubernetes installation. It represents a customization of a particular Kubernetes installation. However, many core Kubernetes functions are now built using custom resources, making Kubernetes more modular.

Custom resources can appear and disappear in a running cluster through dynamic registration, and cluster admins can update custom resources independently of the cluster itself. Once a custom resource is installed, users can create and access its objects using kubectl, just as they do for built-in resources like Pods.

Custom Controllers

On their own, custom resources let you store and retrieve structured data. When you combine a custom resource with a custom controller, custom resources provide a true declarative API.

The Kubernetes declarative API enforces a separation of responsibilities. You declare the desired state of your resource. The Kubernetes controller keeps the current state of Kubernetes objects in sync with your declared desired state. This is in contrast to an imperative API, where you instruct a server what to do.

You can deploy and update a custom controller on a running cluster, independently of the cluster’s lifecycle. Custom controllers can work with any kind of resource, but they are especially effective when combined with custom resources. The Operator pattern combines custom resources and custom controllers. You can use custom controllers to encode domain knowledge for specific applications into an extension of the Kubernetes API.

Adding Custom Resources

Kubernetes provides two ways to add custom resources to your cluster:

  • CRDs are simple and can be created without any programming.
  • API Aggregation requires programming, but allows more control over API behaviors like how data is stored and conversion between API versions.

Kubernetes provides these two options to meet the needs of different users, so that neither ease of use nor flexibility is compromised.

CRDs allow users to create new types of resources without adding another API server. You do not need to understand API Aggregation to use CRDs.

Regardless of how they are installed, the new resources are referred to as Custom Resources to distinguish them from built-in Kubernetes resources (like pods).

Custom Resource Definitions

The CustomResourceDefinition API resource allows you to define custom resources. Defining a CRD object creates a new custom resource with a name and schema that you specify. The Kubernetes API serves and handles the storage of your custom resource. The name of a CRD object must be a valid DNS subdomain name.

This frees you from writing your own API server to handle the custom resource, but the generic nature of the implementation means you have less flexibility than with API server aggregation.

Refer to the custom controller example for an example of how to register a new custom resource, work with instances of your new resource type, and use a controller to handle events.

OPA Gatekeeper: Policy and Governance for Kubernetes

The Open Policy Agent Gatekeeper project can be leveraged to help enforce policies and strengthen governance in your Kubernetes environment.

For example, you can enforce policies like:

  • All images must be from approved repositories
  • All ingress hostnames must be globally unique
  • All pods must have resource limits
  • All namespaces must have a label that lists a point-of-contact

Kubernetes allows decoupling policy decisions from the API server by means of admission controller webhooks to intercept admission requests before they are persisted as objects in Kubernetes. 

Gatekeeper was created to enable users to customize admission control via configuration, not code and to bring awareness of the cluster’s state, not just the single object under evaluation at admission time.

Gatekeeper is a customizable admission webhook for Kubernetes that enforces policies executed by the Open Policy Agent (OPA), a policy engine for Cloud Native environments hosted by CNCF.

Gatekeeper v3.0 – The admission controller is integrated with the OPA Constraint Framework to enforce CRD-based policies and allow declaratively configured policies to be reliably shareable. Built with kubebuilder, it provides validating and, eventually, mutating (to be implemented) admission control and audit functionality. This enables the creation of policy templates for Rego policies, creation of policies as CRDs, and storage of audit results on policy CRDs. This project is a collaboration between Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, and Styra.

Validating Admission Control

Once all the Gatekeeper components have been installed in your cluster, the API server will trigger the Gatekeeper admission webhook to process the admission request whenever a resource in the cluster is created, updated, or deleted.

During the validation process, Gatekeeper acts as a bridge between the API server and OPA. The API server will enforce all policies executed by OPA.

Policies and Constraints

With the integration of the OPA Constraint Framework, a Constraint is a declaration that its author wants a system to meet a given set of requirements. Each Constraint is written with Rego, a declarative query language used by OPA to enumerate instances of data that violate the expected state of the system. All Constraints are evaluated as a logical AND. If one Constraint is not satisfied, then the whole request is rejected.

Before defining a Constraint, you need to create a Constraint Template that allows people to declare new Constraints. Each template describes both the Rego logic that enforces the Constraint and the schema for the Constraint, which includes the schema of the CRD and the parameters that can be passed into a Constraint, much like arguments to a function.

For example, here is a Constraint template CRD that requires certain labels to be present on an arbitrary object.

Example: CRD Template to Enforce Labels

Once a Constraint template has been deployed in the cluster, an admin can now create individual Constraint CRDs as defined by the Constraint template. For example, here is a Constraint CRD that requires the label hr to be present on all namespaces.

Similarly, another Constraint CRD that requires the label finance to be present on all namespaces can easily be created from the same Constraint template.

As you can see, with the Constraint framework, we can reliably share Regos via the Constraint templates, define the scope of enforcement with the match field, and provide user-defined parameters to the Constraints to create customized behavior for each Constraint.

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Happy Learning !!

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