Cluster Registry API

@perotinus, @madhusudancs

Original draft: 08/16/2017

Reviewed in SIG multi-cluster meeting on 829

This doc is a Markdown conversion of the original Cluster Registry API Google doc. That doc is deprecated, and this one is canonical; however, the old doc will be preserved so as not to lose comment and revision history that it contains.

Table of Contents


The cluster registry API is intended to provide a common abstraction for other tools that will perform operations on multiple clusters. It provides an interface to a list of objects that will store metadata about clusters that can be used by other tools. The cluster registry implementation is meant to remain simple: we believe there is benefit in defining a common layer that can be used by many different tools to solve different kinds of multi-cluster problems.

It may be helpful to consider this API as an extension of the kubeconfig file. The kubeconfig file contains a list of clusters with the auth data necessary for kubectl to access them; the cluster registry API intends to provide this data, plus some additional useful metadata, from a remote location instead of from the user’s local machine.

Motivating use cases

These were presented at the SIG-Federation F2F meeting on 8/4/17 (Atlassian, CoreOS, Google, RedHat). Each of the use cases presented assumes the ability to access a registry of clusters, and so all are valid motivating use cases for the cluster registry API. Note that these use cases will generally require more tooling than the cluster registry itself. The cluster registry API will support what these other tools will need in order to operate, but will not intrinsically support these use cases.

  • Consistent configuration across clusters/replication of resources
  • Federated Ingress: load balancing across multiple clusters, potentially geo-aware
  • Multi-cluster application distribution, with policy/balancing
  • Disaster recovery/failover
  • Human- and tool- parseable interaction with a list of clusters
  • Monitoring/health checking/status reporting for clusters, potentially with dashboards
  • Policy-based and jurisdictional placement of workloads


This document defines the cluster registry API. It is an evolution of the current Federation cluster API, and is designed more specifically for the “cluster registry” use case in contrast to the Federation Cluster object, which was made for the active-control-plane Federation.

The API is a Kubernetes-style REST API that supports the following operations:

  1. POST - to create new objects.
  2. GET - to retrieve both lists and individual objects.
  3. PUT - to update or create an object.
  4. DELETE - to delete an object.
  5. PATCH - to modify the fields of an object.

Optional API operations:

  1. WATCH - to receive a stream of changes made to a given object. As WATCH is not a standard HTTP method, this operation will be implemented as GET /<resource>&watch=true. We believe that it’s not always necessary to support WATCH for this API. Implementations can choose to support or not support this operation. An implementation that does not support the operation should return HTTP error 405, StatusMethodNotAllowed, per the relevant Kubernetes API conventions.

We also intend to support a use case where the server returns a file that can be stored for later use. We expect this to be doable with the standard API machinery; and if the API is implemented not using the Kubernetes API machinery, that the returned file must be interoperable with the response from a Kubernetes API server.

The API is defined in the cluster registry repo, and is not replicated here in order to avoid mismatches.

All top-level objects that define resources in Kubernetes embed a meta.ObjectMeta that in-turn contains a number of fields. All the fields in that struct are potentially useful with the exception of the ClusterName and the Namespace fields. Having a ClusterName field alongside a Name field in the cluster registry API will be confusing to our users. Therefore, in the initial API implementation, we will add validation logic that rejects Cluster objects that contain a value for the ClusterName field. The Cluster object’s Namespace field will be disabled by making the object be root scoped instead of namespace scoped.

The Cluster object will have Spec and Status fields, following the Kubernetes API conventions. There was argument in favor of a State field instead of Spec and Status fields, since the Cluster in the registry does not necessarily hold a user’s intent about the cluster being represented, but instead may hold descriptive information about the cluster and information about the status of the cluster; and because the cluster registry provides no controller that performs reconciliation on Cluster objects. However, after discussion with SIG-arch, the decision was made in favor of spec and status.

Authorization-based filtering of the list of clusters

The initial version of the cluster registry supports a cluster list API that does not take authorization rules into account. It returns a list of clusters similar to how other Kubernetes List APIs list the objects in the presence of RBAC rules. A future version of this API will take authorization rules into account and only return the subset of clusters a user is authorized to access in the registry.


There are use cases for the cluster registry that call for storing status that is provided by more active controllers, e.g. health checks and cluster capacity. At this point, these use cases are not as well-defined as the use cases that require a data store, and so we do not intend to propose a complete definition for the ClusterStatus type. We recognize the value of conventions, so as these use cases become more clearly defined, the API of the ClusterStatus will be extended appropriately.


The cluster registry API will not provide strongly-typed objects for returning auth info. Instead, it will provide a generic type that clients can use as they see fit. This is intended to mirror what kubectl does with its AuthProviderConfig. As open standards are developed for cluster auth, the API can be extended to provide first-class support for these. We want to avoid baking non-open standards into the API, and so having to support potentially a multiplicity of them as they change. The cluster registry itself is not intended to be a credential store, but instead to provide “pointers” that will provide the information needed by callers to authenticate to a cluster. There is some more context here.

Key differences vs existing Federation API Cluster object

  • Active controller is not required; the registry can be used without any controllers
  • WATCH support is not required

Open questions

All open questions have been migrated to issues in the cluster registry repo.