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Deploying Machine ID on Kubernetes

This guide shows you how to deploy the Machine ID daemon tbot, on a Kubernetes cluster.

In the setup we demonstrate in this guide, tbot runs as a Kubernetes deployment. It writes output credentials to a Kubernetes secret, which can then be mounted in the pods that need to use the credentials. While tbot can also run as a sidecar within the same pod as the service that needs to use the credentials it generates, we recommend running tbot as a standalone deployment due the limited support Kubernetes has for sidecars.

In this guide, we demonstrate the kubernetes join method, in which tbot proves its identity to the Teleport Auth Service by presenting a JSON web token (JWT) signed by the Kubernetes API server. This JWT contains identifies the service account, the pod and the namespace in which tbot is running. The Teleport Auth Service checks the signature of the JWT against the Kubernetes cluster's public signing key.

When deploying tbot to a Teleport cluster, it is generally recommended to use the kubernetes join method. This will work with most Kubernetes clusters. The guide that follows will demonstrate configuring this join method.

However, when using certain cloud Kubernetes services, it is possible to use the join method associated with that platform rather than the kubernetes join method. This may be beneficial if you wish to manage the joining of tbot within the Kubernetes clusters and on standard VMs on the same platform with a single join token. These services are:


  • A running Teleport cluster version 15.3.7 or above. If you want to get started with Teleport, sign up for a free trial or set up a demo environment.

  • The tctl admin tool and tsh client tool.

    On Teleport Enterprise, you must use the Enterprise version of tctl, which you can download from your Teleport account workspace. Otherwise, visit Installation for instructions on downloading tctl and tsh for Teleport Community Edition.

  • To check that you can connect to your Teleport cluster, sign in with tsh login, then verify that you can run tctl commands using your current credentials. tctl is supported on macOS and Linux machines. For example:
    tsh login --user=[email protected]
    tctl status


    Version 15.3.7

    CA pin sha256:abdc1245efgh5678abdc1245efgh5678abdc1245efgh5678abdc1245efgh5678

    If you can connect to the cluster and run the tctl status command, you can use your current credentials to run subsequent tctl commands from your workstation. If you host your own Teleport cluster, you can also run tctl commands on the computer that hosts the Teleport Auth Service for full permissions.
  • A Kubernetes cluster with support for Token Request Projection (which graduated to a generally available feature in Kubernetes 1.20).
  • kubectl authenticated with the ability to create resources in the cluster you wish to deploy tbot into.

The examples in this guide will install a tbot deployment in the default Namespace of the Kubernetes cluster. Adjust references to default to the Namespace you wish to use.

Step 1/5. Prepare Kubernetes RBAC

In order to prepare the Kubernetes cluster for Machine ID, several Kubernetes RBAC resources must be created.

A ServiceAccount will be created and later assigned to the Pod that will run tbot. This creates a static identity that we can allow access to join the Teleport Cluster and also provides an identity to which we can assign Kubernetes privileges.

A Role granting the ability to read and write to secrets in the Namespace will be created and then assigned to the ServiceAccount using a RoleBinding. This will allow the tbot Pod to read and write credentials to a Secret.

Create a file called k8s-rbac.yaml:

# This ServiceAccount will be used to give the `tbot` pods a discrete identity
# which can be validated by the Teleport Auth Server.
apiVersion: v1
kind: ServiceAccount
  name: tbot
  namespace: default
# This role grants the ability to manage secrets within the namespace - this is
# necessary for the `kubernetes_secret` destination to work correctly.
# You may wish to add the `resourceNames` field to the role to further restrict
# this access in sensitive environments.
kind: Role
  name: secrets-admin
  namespace: default
  - apiGroups: [""]
    resources: ["secrets"]
    verbs: ["*"]
# Bind the role to the service account created for tbot.
kind: RoleBinding
  name: tbot-secrets-admin
  namespace: default
  - kind: ServiceAccount
    name: tbot
  kind: Role
  name:  secrets-admin

Apply this file to your Kubernetes cluster:

kubectl apply -f ./k8s-rbac.yaml

Step 2/5. Create a Bot

Next, you need to create a Bot. A Bot is a Teleport identity for a machine or group of machines. Like users, bots have a set of roles and traits which define what they can access.

Create bot.yaml:

kind: bot
version: v1
  # name is a unique identifier for the Bot in the cluster.
  name: example
  # roles is a list of roles to grant to the Bot. Don't worry if you don't know
  # what roles you need to specify here, the Access Guides will walk you through
  # creating and assigning roles to the already created Bot.
  roles: []

Make sure you replace example with a unique, descriptive name for your Bot.

Use tctl to apply this file:

tctl create bot.yaml

Step 3/5. Create a join token

Next, a join token needs to be configured. This will be used by tbot to join the cluster. As the kubernetes join method will be used, the public key of the Kubernetes cluster must first be determined. The public key used to sign JWTs is exposed on the "JWKS" endpoint of the Kubernetes API server. This public key can then be used by the Teleport Auth to verify that the Service Account JWT presented by tbot is signed legitimately by the Kubernetes cluster.

Run the following commands to determine the JWKS formatted public key:

kubectl proxy -p 8080
curl http://localhost:8080/openid/v1/jwks

Create bot-token.yaml, ensuring you insert the value from the JWKS endpoint in spec.kubernetes.static_jwks.jwks:

kind: token
version: v2
  # name will be specified in the `tbot` to use this token
  name: example-bot
  roles: [Bot]
  # bot_name should match the name of the bot created earlier in this guide.
  bot_name: example
  join_method: kubernetes
    # static_jwks configures the Auth Server to validate the JWT presented by
    # `tbot` using the public key from a statically configured JWKS.
    type: static_jwks
      jwks: |
        # Place the data returned by the curl command here
    # allow specifies the rules by which the Auth Server determines if `tbot`
    # should be allowed to join.
    - service_account: "default:tbot" # service_account

Use tctl to apply this file:

tctl create -f bot-token.yaml

Step 4/5. Create a tbot deployment

First, a ConfigMap will be created to contain the configuration file for tbot. This will then be mounted into the Pod.

Create k8s-deployment-config.yaml, replacing the value of token with the name of the token you created earlier and the value of proxy_server with the address of your Teleport Proxy Service:

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: tbot-config
  namespace: default
  tbot.yaml: |
    version: v2
      join_method: kubernetes
      # ensure token is set to the name of the join token you created earlier
      token: bot-kubernetes
      # a memory destination is used for the bots own state since the kubernetes
      # join method does not require persistence.
      type: memory
    # ensure this is configured to the address of your Teleport Proxy Service.
    # outputs will be filled in during the completion of an access guide.
    outputs: []

Apply this file to your Kubernetes cluster:

kubectl apply -f k8s-deployment-config.yaml

With the ConfigMap created, you can now create the tbot deployment itself.

Create k8s-deployment.yaml:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: tbot
  namespace: default
  replicas: 1
    type: Recreate
    matchLabels: tbot
      labels: tbot
        - name: tbot
            - start
            - -c
            - /config/tbot.yaml
            # POD_NAMESPACE is required for the kubernetes_secret` destination
            # type to work correctly.
            - name: POD_NAMESPACE
                  fieldPath: metadata.namespace
            # KUBERNETES_TOKEN_PATH specifies the path to the service account
            # JWT to use for joining.
            # This path is based on the configuration of the volume and
            # volumeMount.
            - name: KUBERNETES_TOKEN_PATH
              value: /var/run/secrets/tokens/join-sa-token
            # TELEPORT_ANONYMOUS_TELEMETRY enables the submission of anonymous
            # usage telemetry.  This helps us shape the future development of
            # `tbot`. You can disable this by omitting this.
              value: "1"
            - mountPath: /config
              name: config
            - mountPath: /var/run/secrets/tokens
              name: join-sa-token
      serviceAccountName: tbot
        - name: config
            name: tbot-config
        - name: join-sa-token
              - serviceAccountToken:
                  path: join-sa-token
                  # 600 seconds is the minimum that Kubernetes supports. We
                  # recommend this value is used.
                  expirationSeconds: 600
                  # `` must be replaced with the name of
                  # your Teleport cluster.

Replace with the name of your Teleport cluster - this is not necessarily the public address (the port should not be included).

This is an example manifest, consider modifying it to fit within the conventions of deployments to your clusters (e.g customizing labels).

FIPS Compliance

The default tbot-distroless image does not contain the FIPS-compliant binaries. If you operate in an environment where FIPS compliance is required, please use the tbot-fips-distroless image instead.

Apply this file to your Kubernetes cluster:

kubectl apply -f ./k8s-deployment.yaml

Use kubectl to verify that the deployment is healthy:

kubectl describe deployment/tbot
kubectl logs deployment/tbot

With this complete, tbot is now successfully deployed to your cluster. However, it is not yet producing any useful output.

Step 5/5. Configure outputs

Follow one of the access guides to configure an output that meets your access needs.

In order to adjust the access guides to work well with Kubernetes, use the Kubernetes Secret destination type. This will write the generated artifacts to a specified Kubernetes Secret, for example:

  - type: identity
      type: kubernetes_secret
      name: identity-output

The output can then be consumed by mounting this secret within another pod:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: tsh
  namespace: default
    - name: tsh
        - tsh
       - -i
       - /identity-output/identity
       - --proxy
       - ls
        - name: identity-output
          mountPath: /identity-output
    - name: identity-output
        secretName: identity-output

Next steps