Kubernetes Ingress with Cert-Manager

This example demonstrates the use of Istio as a secure Kubernetes Ingress controller with TLS certificates issued by Let’s Encrypt. While more powerful Istio concepts such as gateway and virtual service should be used for advanced traffic management, optional support of the Kubernetes Ingress is also available and can be used to simplify integration of legacy and third-party solutions into a service mesh and benefit from extensive telemetry and tracing capabilities that Istio provides.

You will start with a clean Istio installation, create an example service, expose it using the Kubernetes Ingress resource and get it secured by instructing cert-manager (bundled with Istio) to manage issuance and renewal of TLS certificates that will be further delivered to the Istio ingress gateway and hot-swapped as necessary via the means of Secrets Discovery Service (SDS).

Before you begin

  1. Install Istio making sure to enable ingress gateway with Kubernetes Ingress support, SDS. Here’s an example of how to do this for the helm template installation path:

    $ helm template $HOME/istio-fetch/istio \
      --namespace=istio-system \
      --set gateways.istio-ingressgateway.sds.enabled=true \
      --set global.k8sIngress.enabled=true \
      --set global.k8sIngress.enableHttps=true \
      --set global.k8sIngress.gatewayName=ingressgateway \
      > $HOME/istio-fetch/istio.yaml
    
  2. Install cert-manager to manage certificates automatically.

Configuring DNS name and gateway

Take a note of the external IP address of the istio-ingressgateway service:

$ kubectl -n istio-system get service istio-ingressgateway

Configure your DNS zone so that the domain you’d like to use for this example is resolving to the external IP address of istio-ingressgateway service that you’ve captured in the previous step. You will need a real domain name for this example in order to get a TLS certificate issued. Let’s store the configured domain name into an environment variable for further use:

$ INGRESS_DOMAIN=mysubdomain.mydomain.edu

Your Istio installation contains an automatically generated gateway resource configured to serve the routes defined by the Kubernetes Ingress resources. By default it does not use SDS, so you need to modify it in order to enable the delivery of the TLS certificates to the istio-ingressgateway via SDS:

$ kubectl -n istio-system edit gateway

…and modify the tls section corresponding to the https-default port as follows:

$ kubectl -n istio-system \
  patch gateway istio-autogenerated-k8s-ingress --type=json \
  -p='[{"op": "replace", "path": "/spec/servers/1/tls", "value": {"credentialName": "ingress-cert", "mode": "SIMPLE", "privateKey": "sds", "serverCertificate": "sds"}}]'

Now it’s time to setup a demo application.

Setting up a demo application

You will be using a simple helloworld application for this example. The following command will spin up the Deployment and Service for the demo application and expose the service using an Ingress resource that will be handled by istio-ingressgateway.

$ cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: helloworld
  labels:
    app: helloworld
spec:
  ports:
  - port: 5000
    name: http
  selector:
    app: helloworld
---
apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: helloworld
spec:
  template:
    metadata:
      labels:
        app: helloworld
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: helloworld
        image: istio/examples-helloworld-v1
        resources:
          requests:
            cpu: "100m"
        imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
        ports:
        - containerPort: 5000
---
apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
metadata:
  annotations:
    kubernetes.io/ingress.class: istio
  name: helloworld-ingress
spec:
  rules:
    - host: "$INGRESS_DOMAIN"
      http:
        paths:
          - path: /hello
            backend:
              serviceName: helloworld
              servicePort: 5000
---
EOF

Now you should be able to access your demo application via HTTP:

$ curl http://$INGRESS_DOMAIN/hello
Hello version: v1, instance: helloworld-5d498979b6-jp2mf

HTTPS access still won’t work as you don’t have any TLS certificates. Let’s fix that.

Getting a Let’s Encrypt certificate issued using cert-manager

At this point your Istio installation should have cert-manager up and running with two ClusterIssuer resources configured (for production and staging ACME-endpoints provided by Let’s Encrypt). You will be using staging endpoint for this example (feel free to try swapping letsencrypt-staging for letsencrypt to get a browser-trusted certificate issued).

In order to have a certificate issued and managed by cert-manager you need to create a Certificate resource:

$ cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: certmanager.k8s.io/v1alpha1
kind: Certificate
metadata:
  name: ingress-cert
  namespace: istio-system
spec:
  secretName: ingress-cert
  issuerRef:
    name: letsencrypt-staging
    kind: ClusterIssuer
  commonName: $INGRESS_DOMAIN
  dnsNames:
  - $INGRESS_DOMAIN
  acme:
    config:
    - http01:
        ingressClass: istio
      domains:
      - $INGRESS_DOMAIN
---
EOF

Notice that the secretName matches the credentialName attribute value that you previously used while configuring the gateway resource. The Certificate resource will be processed by cert-manager and a new certificate will eventually be issued. Consult the status of the Certificate resource to check the progress:

$ kubectl -n istio-system describe certificate ingress-cert
-> status should eventually flip to 'Certificate issued successfully'

At this point the service should become available over HTTPS as well:

$ curl --insecure https://$INGRESS_DOMAIN/hello
Hello version: v1, instance: helloworld-5d498979b6-jp2mf

Note that you have to use the --insecure flag as certificates issued by the “staging” ACME-endpoints aren’t trusted.

Moving to production from staging

Now to switch to the production letsencrypt issuer. First we’ll reapply the certificate.

$ cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: certmanager.k8s.io/v1alpha1
kind: Certificate
metadata:
  name: ingress-cert
  namespace: istio-system
spec:
  secretName: ingress-cert
  issuerRef:
    name: letsencrypt
    kind: ClusterIssuer
  commonName: $INGRESS_DOMAIN
  dnsNames:
  - $INGRESS_DOMAIN
  acme:
    config:
    - http01:
        ingressClass: istio
      domains:
      - $INGRESS_DOMAIN
---
EOF
certificate.certmanager.k8s.io/ingress-cert configured

Now delete the secret to force cert-manager to request a new certificate from the production issuer:

$ kubectl delete secret -n istio-system ingress-cert

And watch that cert for a successful issuance:

$ watch -n1 kubectl describe cert ingress-cert -n istio-system

you should see something like:

Normal  CertIssued     13m   cert-manager  Certificate issued successfully