Engin Diri


Quick Bites Of Pulumi: Stack References

Quick Bites Of Pulumi: Stack References

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Engin Diri
·Apr 19, 2022·

3 min read

Table of contents

  • TL;DR Where code?
  • What are Stack References?
  • Wrap up
  • Clean up

TL;DR Where code?

-> Here you go github.com/dirien/quick-bites

This is a very quick overview of the Random Provider from Pulumi, similar to the Quick Bites of Cloud Engineering videos from Laura Santamaria (@nimbinatus)

What are Stack References?

Stack References are a very interesting concept in Pulumi. They provide a way to access the output of one stack, mostly written with the export keyword or methods from another stack.

Let us check the quick example, in the folder 00-infrastructure, I am going to create a DigitalOcean's managed Kubernetes Service, or DOKS. The actual Pulumi program is written in TypeScript, to demonstrate that is doesn't matter which language you are using to reference the stack output

Swiftly done via following commands:

pulumi new digitalocean-typescript
pulumi config set digitalocean:token $DIGITALOCEAN_TOKEN --secret
pulumi up --yes --skip-preview

And the TypeScript code is:

let doks = new digitalocean.KubernetesCluster("k8s-cluster", {
  name: "quick-bites-cluster",
export const kubeConfig = pulumi.secret(doks.kubeConfigs[0].rawConfig)

It may take some time to come up with the deployment but at the end you should see something like this:

  + kubeConfig: [secret]

    + 1 created

Now we create the second Pulumi program in the folder 01-kubernetes. This one will be written in Go and deploy a simple httpbin via a Helm chart.

To reference the stack names must be fully qualified, including the organization, project, and stack name components, in the format <org-name>/<project>/<stack>. If you own an individual account you have to change the <org-name> part with your account name.

For me, it would be: dirien/00-infrastructure/dev

Now lets reference it! To create the next Pulumi program in the 01-kubernetes folder just type following commands:

pulumi new kubernetes-go
pulumi up --yes --skip-preview

The important part of the code is, where we create StackReference object. The constructor takes as input a string in the form of <org-name>/<project>/<stack>.

doks, err := pulumi.NewStackReference(ctx, "dirien/00-infrastructure/dev", nil)
if err != nil {
    return err

provider, err := kubernetes.NewProvider(ctx, "kubernetes", &kubernetes.ProviderArgs{
    Kubeconfig: doks.GetStringOutput(pulumi.String("kubeConfig")),

To test that it works, let us export the kubeConfig into a kubeconfig.yaml file:

cd 00-infrastructure
pulumi stack output kubeconfig --show-secrets  > kubeconfig.yaml

export KUBECONFIG=kubeconfig.yaml

kubectl get svc
httpbin      ClusterIP   <none>        80/TCP    43s
kubernetes   ClusterIP      <none>        443/TCP   10m

kubectl port-forward svc/httpbin 8080:80
Forwarding from -> 8080
Forwarding from [::1]:8080 -> 8080
Handling connection for 8080
Handling connection for 8080


Wrap up

What are the advantages of using Stack References?

  • Now you can cut your infrastructure code into separate pulumi programs, and define an opinionated way of which values you want to expose for other stacks to consume.

  • You created a boundary, where you can work on your own lifecycle needs. Any updates to the infrastructure code will be isolated to the other Pulumi programs.

  • This self-contained Pulumi programs can have different stacks (dev/staging/prod) you can provide to others.

  • Different Pulumi programs may be ownd from different people inside on team or whole teams inside an organization.

  • Application developers, don't need to know about the detail infrastructure implementation. What they need are only the endpoints. For example the kubeconfig or the database connection string.

Clean up

Don't forget to destroy both Pulumi programs with the following command:

pulumi destroy --yes
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