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  • Setting up an Amazon EKS Cluster

    Manoj Chaurasia

    This article is focused on setting up an EKS cluster and the possible pitfalls that you may experience while doing so. Hopefully, this will be helpful in setting up your own EKS cluster! We will focus on some of the major milestones in the setup.

    To get started, we suggest looking at the official documentation, https://docs.aws.amazon.com/eks/latest/userguide/getting-started.html. If you follow this, you should be able to get everything set up, but issues may arise, so ill list the most common ones below.

    Possible issues:

    • The access Key and Secret Access Key haven't been set yet. In order for your computer to connect to the EKS cluster it needs these keys to authenticate yourself as the actual user. These keys can be set by running "aws configure" within your terminal. Please keep in mind that this stores your keys, so only do this on a private computer that only you have access to. Your keys essentially give access to your account. 
    • Have the proper versions of the CLIs required. This is mainly focused on kubectl (1.10) and AWS cli (1.15). Older versions of the AWS cli do not support EKS functions. Upgrading the AWS cli can be a pain if you do not have the newest versions of python 2 or 3 along with pip. But it must be done.
    • Make sure you don't skip the step for the heptio-authenticator step in the getting-started guide. This is very important to install or else your cluster won't authenticate your CLI requests.
    • Make sure the name of your config file matches the name of your cluster. This makes it easy to manage in case you have multiple K8s config files. Also, make sure to export that config file to KUBECONFIG to either your bash_profile or bashrc file. That way you don?t need to export it every time you open up a new terminal session.
    • Create proper policies and roles for security reasons. Don't assign your cluster administrative rights because you are being lazy and can't be bothered to create a new policy. Project your Cluster! Create appropriate policies!

    These are just a few things that may come up. 

    If you're a beginner, we suggest just using the WebUI to create your cluster and setup up your roles and policies. This simplifies the process and makes it much more intuitive. Also, you have the choice to create a new VPC or use an existing one. We suggest using an existing one since it has everything you need on it. (Don't want to accidentally forget something). After you've set up your control panel, you should see something like this.


    We will use our certificate authority, cluster ARN and API server endpoint for some of the config files so just keep note of them (follow the getting started guide).

    After you set that up, you will need to deploy your worker nodes on your AWS account. This is done with a cloud formation script. (provided on the getting started page). Just fill in the parameters that it asks for. This should take 5-10 minutes to deploy. Once done, on the CloudFormation page, navigate to the Outputs tab. Keep a note of this value as you will need it when binding your worker nodes to your control panel.

    Continue following the getting started guide. At the end of it, you should be able to run "kubectl get svc" and get an output that shows your Kubernetes service. If not, maybe you get an error, check to make sure you've downloaded and installed the heptio-authenticator correctly. And that whatever role/policy combination you are using has the right permissions. If you do see a service, that means your EKS cluster is up and running and you are able to start deploying projects onto it. 

    If you wish to have a UI to work with, follow this guide: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/eks/latest/userguide/dashboard-tutorial.html I suggest it for beginners. It's also easier to demo/talk about (more interesting).

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