DigitalOcean Kubernetes Challenge

DigitalOcean Kubernetes Challenge

Deploy a GitOps CI/CD implementation


11 min read

TL;DR Code

I chose to participate in the DigitalOcean Kubernetes Challenge in order to learn more about Kubernetes and to get a better understanding of the challenges that are involved in deploying Kubernetes clusters.

The Challenge

I picked following challenge:

Deploy a GitOps CI/CD implementation

GitOps is today the way you automate deployment pipelines within Kubernetes itself, and ArgoCD is currently one of the leading implementations. Install it to create a CI/CD solution, using tekton and kaniko for actual image building.

More details to the DigitalOcean Kubernetes Challenge ->

The Tools And Technologies

Following tools and technologies were used to create this challenge:




Diverse tools

As a backend for Pulumi, I chose their own SaaS platform. And I created an account on

The Idea

Build the basics of CI/CD platform using Tekton and ArgoCD. I opted for a single cluster, to emulate a development environment. To avoid any containers during development goes out of control, I took care that there is a strict separation of the workloads with different worker node pools.

So I created three different worker node pools, one for each type of workload.


  • base: This is the base node pool, with the minimum amount of resources and only for the kubernetes own workloads.
  • tools: This is the node pool for the tools, which are used the whole tools like Tekton, Prometheus, ArgoCD and so on.
  • workloads: This is the node pool for the workloads, which are used for the actual apps.

All is done, with setting the taints during the creation of the node pools.

  - effect: NoSchedule
    key: <tools|workloads>
    value: "true"

The Solution


I dived the infrastructure into three different components:

  • auth: This contains the code to provision the components, which are used to authenticate and authorize the users.
  • cloud: This contains the code to provision the infrastructure on DigitalOcean. Mainly the DOKS and Spaces.
  • services: This contains the code to provision the services, the platform team will use for themselves and provide to the developers. Mainly the Tekton and ArgoCD but also the Ingress and Cert-Manager for example.

The separation of the components is done to make it easier to understand and to make it easier to change, without the need to deploy the whole infrastructure again. Pulumi and other infrastructure as code tools, can take a lot of time to finish and that is not something that I wanted.

I use task to create the infrastructure, which like make but with yaml files.

Attention: You should have a DNS domain, you can use for the different services. I used for all the services. It's already pointing to DigitalOcean DNS.

Let's see how the infrastructure is created:


In the folder infrastructure/auth I created a Pulumi Program, to deploy the auth0 infrastructure. To use the auth0 provider you have first to create a new application of the type machine to machine in the UI.


It is very important, to enable all permissions for the application to access the API.


After the creation, open the "Settings" tab and copy the Domain, Client ID, and Client secret values. We need this values in our pulumi program.

You can set them via the pulumi config command:

pulumi config set auth0:domain <your-domain>
pulumi config set auth0:clientId <your-clientId> --secret
pulumi config set auth0:clientSecret <your-clientSecret> --secret

Now you can deploy the auth0 infrastructure via the command task auth0-deploy.

I also export some output values, which are used in the other components.

ctx.Export("argo.clientId", argoCD.ClientId)
ctx.Export("argo.clientSecret", argoCD.ClientSecret)
ctx.Export("grafana.clientId", grafana.ClientId)
ctx.Export("grafana.clientSecret", grafana.ClientSecret)
ctx.Export("oauth2.clientId", oauth2.ClientId)
ctx.Export("oauth2.clientSecret", oauth2.ClientSecret)

I can refer to the values in the other components. That's very useful, because the values are not stored in the git repo or need to be written down.

To greate groups and assign them to the users, I used the auth0 extension called Auth0 Authorization.


I will not go any further on how to configure everything, as I think it will be too much for this document.

Further reading:


This is pretty straight forward, as I used the DigitalOcean provider from pulumi. The only thing I did was to create the API-Token and the Spaces Access ID and Secret. You can create and access them via the UI. Please refer to the DigitalOcean documentation in case you need more information.

Again, I set them via the pulumi config command:

pulumi config set digitalocean:token <your-token>  --secret
pulumi config set digitalocean:spaces_access_id <your-spaces_access_id> --secret
pulumi config set digitalocean:spaces_secret_key <your-spaces_secret_key> --secret

I also export some output values, which are used in the other components.

ctx.Export("cluster", kubernetesCluster.Name)
ctx.Export("toolsNodePoolName", toolsNodePool.Name)
ctx.Export("kubeconfig", pulumi.ToSecret(kubernetesCluster.KubeConfigs.ToKubernetesClusterKubeConfigArrayOutput().Index(pulumi.Int(0)).RawConfig()))
ctx.Export("loki.bucket.Name", bucket.Name)
ctx.Export("loki.bucket.BucketDomainName", bucket.BucketDomainName)
ctx.Export("loki.bucket.region", bucket.Region)

The kubeconfig is very useful, because it will be used to deploy the services in the next step.

Again, everything is deployable via task and the command task digitalocean-infra-deploy

Further reading:

Services (Kubernetes)

This is by far the biggest part to deploy. And to be honest. I did just scratch the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other tool to deploy, which helps tremendously during day-2 operations. Like Kyverno and Falco to name some.

I need to digitalocean token and spaces access id here again for the different services I want to deploy.

So like in the other two components, I set them via the pulumi config command:

pulumi config set services:do_token <your-token>  --secret
pulumi config set services:grafana-password <your-spaces_access_id> --secret
pulumi config set services:spaces_access_id <your-spaces_secret_key> --secret
pulumi config set services:spaces_secret_key <your-spaces_secret_key> --secret

I deploy most of the services via helm inside the pulumi program using the helm.NewRelease function. The only big exception is the tekton deployment, which is done via as kustomize using the kustomize.NewDirectory function. For this I downloaded all tekton deployment manifests from the tekton repo and created a kustomization.yaml file under infrastructure/manifests. Then in the function I point via the URL to the kustomization folder.

Retrospectively, I would have used the tekton operator instead. Or try to contribute, to create a helm chart

From the code organization, I created for every service I am going to deploy an own go file and saved it under internal/charts. So I have everything organized and just need to call them in the main.go file.

I did not use any values.yaml. Everything is inside the code, so I can benefit from the types and don't need to worry about yaml indentation and easily insert variables and transformations.

Retrospectively, I would maybe use golang templates instead.

To have a better idea about the possible values, I heavily used Artifact Hub and of course the documentations of the different services.

Further reading:

In the next section, I want to go into some highlights of the different components.

Again, everything is deployable via task and the command task kubernetes-services-deploy or just task as it is the default.

Some Highlights
NodeSelector and Tolerations

All the deployments are using the nodeSelector and tolerations to select the node dedicated to the tools

"nodeSelector": pulumi.Map{
    "":           pulumi.String("linux"),
    "": cloud.GetStringOutput(pulumi.String("toolsNodePoolName")),
"tolerations": pulumi.Array{
        "key":      pulumi.String("tools"),
        "operator": pulumi.String("Equal"),
        "value":    pulumi.String("true"),
        "effect":   pulumi.String("NoSchedule"),

As I am going tho use auth0 I don't need the dex. So I disabled it in the argo-cd chart. Now It's important to set the config.oidc and fill out the values from the auth component deployment.


return fmt.Sprintf(`name: Auth0
clientID: %s
clientSecret: %s
  essential: true
- openid
- profile
- email
- ''`, clientId, clientSecret), nil

As we set the callback to our argo-cd callback url, everything works fine

Tekton & OAuth2-Proxy

Due to the fact that tekton is not offering a helm chart, I needed to do some custom steps. On top the Dashboard is not offering any authentication. So I needed to deploy the oauth2-proxy in front of the dashboard.

So setting the oidc config for the proxy

"config": pulumi.Map{
    "clientID":     args.Auth.GetStringOutput(pulumi.String("oauth2.clientId")),
    "clientSecret": args.Auth.GetStringOutput(pulumi.String("oauth2.clientSecret")),
"extraArgs": pulumi.Map{
    "provider":              pulumi.String("oidc"),
    "provider-display-name": pulumi.String("auth0"),
    "redirect-url":          pulumi.String(""),
    "oidc-issuer-url":       pulumi.String(fmt.Sprintf("https://%s/", auth0Domain)),
    "cookie-expire":         pulumi.String("24h0m0s"),
    "whitelist-domain":      pulumi.String(""),
    "email-domain":          pulumi.String("*"),
    "cookie-refresh":        pulumi.String("0h60m0s"),
    "cookie-domain":         pulumi.String(""),

And in the Ingress of the dashboard, I needed to add following annotations:

Annotations: pulumi.StringMap{
    "": pulumi.String(""),
    "":      pulumi.String("60"),
    "":   pulumi.String("$host$request_uri"),
    "":      pulumi.String("http://oauth2-proxy.oauth2-proxy.svc.cluster.local/oauth2/auth"),

This will, take care to redirect the user to the login page, provided by oauth2-proxy when the user tries to access it.

Observability & No Alerting

Grafana, uses oidc too for authentication and authorization. So I need to set the oidc config for the grafana deployment. Similar, we do in ArgoCD and for the Tekton Dashboard. The values come again from the auth component via the Pulumi StackReference function.

"auth.generic_oauth": pulumi.Map{
    "enabled":               pulumi.Bool(true),
    "allow_sign_up":         pulumi.Bool(true),
    "allowed_organizations": pulumi.String(""),
    "name":                  pulumi.String("Auth0"),
    "client_id":             args.Auth.GetStringOutput(pulumi.String("grafana.clientId")),
    "client_secret":         args.Auth.GetStringOutput(pulumi.String("grafana.clientSecret")),
    "scopes":                pulumi.String("openid profile email"),
    "auth_url":              pulumi.String(fmt.Sprintf("https://%s/authorize", auth0Domain)),
    "token_url":             pulumi.String(fmt.Sprintf("https://%s/oauth/token", auth0Domain)),
    "api_url":               pulumi.String(fmt.Sprintf("https://%s/userinfo", auth0Domain)),
    "use_pkce":              pulumi.Bool(true),
    "role_attribute_path":   pulumi.String("contains(\"\"[*], 'Admin') && 'Admin' || contains(\"\"[*], 'Editor') && 'Editor' || 'Viewer'"),

I activated in all the deployments the serviceMonitor and, if available, the corresponding Grafana dashboard. This is how the Service Discovery looks like in the Prometheus UI, when all services are neatly discovered.


Example config for external-dns:

"serviceMonitor": pulumi.Map{
    "enabled": pulumi.Bool(true),
    "additionalLabels": pulumi.Map{
        "app": pulumi.String("external-dns"),

This is the dashboard for the ArgoCD:


Unfortunately, I could not spend time in the whole alerting part. So there is no alerting rules, beside the standard ones.

The logging is done via Loki, which uses S3 for storage and BoltDB for persistence. One major advantage of Loki is that it is easy to use, and it is easy to configure and uses Grafana for the UI. So I can create my dashboards and enhance them with the LokiQL like I used to do with the PromQL.


Further reading:


Let us leave the infrastructure behind and go to the next section about the CI/CD pipeline. In the repository, I created a folder called application, which contains the following folders:

  • deployments: contains the Kubernetes YAML files for the deployments
  • lofi-app: contains the app code.
  • tekton: contains the Tekton YAML files for the Tekton pipelines

Let us go through all the components of the application.


The app is a simple golang webapp that displays a pixel art gif. Nothing fancy and worth to mention.



For the deployment of the lofi-app, I decided to use the App-of-Apps pattern. The sub-apps are the tekton pipeline and the app deployment. I use kustomize to glue both sub-apps together.

kind: Kustomization

  - tekton/lofi-tekton.yaml
  - deployment/lofi-app.yaml

The main ArgoCD Application points to this kustomization file.


If any changes are detected, ArgoCD will redeploy them accordingly.

Here is a screenshot of the lofi-app deployment


The next screenshot shows the Tekton pipeline.


As you can see, I did not set ArgoCD to ignore the pipeline runs. That's the reason, the ArgoCD UI shows them the state of this as OutOfSync. Something to work on in the future.

It is noteworthy to mention, that every secret is saved in the git as SealedSecretes. The SealedSecret controller takes care to encrypt this and store them as secrets in the Kubernetes cluster.

For example the pull secret for the lofi image, as we use a private GitHub registry for the image.



Attention: I only use the v1beta1 of the Tekton API. And not use the deprecated PiplineResource. Instead, everything is done via Workspaces

The biggest part was the Tekton pipelines. This was completely new for me. And I have to admit, that it took some time until I got my head around it.


As I wanted to use the webhook function from GitHub, I had to use the Tekton EventListener. When you create the EventListener it will automatically create a service. The only thing, I needed to create was the Ingress. So I could configure the GitHub webhook to point to the service.


Security is done via the GitHub X-Hub-Signature-256, where your secret is sha256 hashed and set in the header. TheEventListener is automatically checks them for us, when we configure the GitHub interceptor.

With the TriggerBinding resource, we can bind the payload of the webhook to internal variables, we can then use in our pipeline. In my case I extracted the git revision and git url from the payload.

- name: gitrevision
  value: $(
- name: gitrepositoryurl
  value: $(body.repository.url)

Pipeline and Task

I then created some custom Tasks and a custom Pipeline. I did not want to install the task form the Tekton Hub via yaml file but rather use this cool beta feature called Tekton Bundle

So I can use Task from the Hub easily inside my Tekton pipelines:

  name: golangci-lint

The kaniko task, I wanted to write completely from scratch. So I created a custom Task, which uses the kaniko image.


kaniko is a tool to build container images from a Dockerfile, inside a container or Kubernetes cluster. kaniko doesn't depend on a Docker daemon and executes each command within a Dockerfile completely in userspace. This enables building container images in environments that can't easily or securely run a Docker daemon, such as a standard Kubernetes cluster.

The heart of the kaniko task is following snippet, where we link all the variables and secrets.

image: $(params.builderImage)
  - --dockerfile=$(params.dockerfile)
  - --context=$(workspaces.source.path)/$(params.context)
  - --destination=$(params.image):$(params.version)
  - --oci-layout-path=$(workspaces.source.path)/$(params.context)/image-digest
  - --reproducible

If everything works fine, the image will be pushed to the registry.


Further reading:

The Conclusion

All in all, I am very happy with the result. I have a lot of fun with this hackathon challenge. I learned a lot about and had again the opportunities to build a Kubernetes environment.

But there are some parts, I would change in the future:

  • Separate the infrastructure from the application.
  • Probable deploy the Kubernetes service also via GitOps rather via Pulumi. So I could fan out to multiple clusters more easily.

Missing Bits

If I had more time, I would have liked to deploy following services:

  • Falco
  • Kyverno
  • Image Scanning (via Snyk or Aqua
  • Supply Chain Security with Tekton Chains.