Simplifying Kubernetes Cluster Creation with AWS EKS and eksctl:Hands-on Demo

In this article, we’ll dive into Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and explore how to create a Kubernetes cluster on AWS using eksctl. If you’ve been curious about EKS or want to simplify your cluster setup process, you’re in the right place. We’ll break down the steps, provide a hands-on demo, and show you how to make cluster creation a breeze.

Understanding AWS EKS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a wide range of cloud services, and one of them is Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). EKS is a managed Kubernetes cluster service. But what does that mean?

What is EKS?

EKS is designed to take the complexity out of managing Kubernetes clusters. When you create an EKS cluster, AWS handles critical aspects for you:

  • Master Node Management: AWS takes care of managing the Kubernetes master nodes. This includes installing essential applications like the container runtime and Kubernetes master processes.
  • Scaling: EKS automatically scales your cluster based on demand, ensuring your applications can handle traffic spikes without manual intervention.
  • Backups: Regular backups of your cluster are performed to ensure data integrity.

In essence, EKS abstracts away the overhead of managing the Kubernetes control plane, allowing you to focus solely on your applications and worker nodes.

How to Use EKS in 3 Steps

Creating a Kubernetes cluster on AWS using EKS involves several steps. Let’s break them down:

Step 1: Preparations

Before diving into cluster creation, there are essential preparations to complete:

  1. Create an AWS Account: If you don’t have one already, sign up for an AWS account. As a new user, you can take advantage of the free tier for the first year.
  2. Set Up a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC): Establish your VPC, which serves as your isolated space within AWS. It ensures your resources won’t interfere with other AWS users’ operations.
  3. Create an IAM Role with Security Group: In AWS, Identity and Access Management (IAM) roles define permissions for users. You’ll need to create a user with permissions to create and manage EKS services.

Step 2: Create the EKS Cluster

Now, it’s time to create your EKS cluster. This involves several configuration steps:

  • Cluster Name: Choose a name for your cluster.
  • Kubernetes Version: Select the desired Kubernetes version.
  • Region: Pick the AWS region where your cluster should run.
  • Security Settings: Configure security settings for your cluster.

You can create the cluster through either the AWS Management Console or the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI).

Step 3: Create Worker Nodes and Connect Them

Once the control plane (master nodes) of your EKS cluster is up and running, it’s time to create and connect worker nodes:

  • Node Group: Create worker nodes as a node group, rather than individual EC2 instances.
  • Security Group: Define a security group for these nodes to control incoming and outgoing traffic.
  • Instance Type: Select the EC2 instance types for your worker nodes based on your resource needs.
  • Auto Scaling: Configure auto-scaling policies by specifying maximum and minimum node counts based on your workload demands.

Once you’ve set up the node group, worker nodes will automatically join the cluster, adjusting to the cluster’s load as needed.

Step 4: Connect to the Cluster

To manage your cluster and deploy applications, you’ll need to connect to it from your local machine using kubectl, the Kubernetes command-line tool. You’ll need to configure kubectl to communicate with your remote EKS cluster.

Simplify Cluster Creation with eksctl

Creating an EKS cluster manually can be complex, especially for AWS newcomers. To simplify the process and avoid tedious manual configuration, you can use eksctl. This command-line tool, developed by Weaveworks and actively supported by the community, streamlines EKS cluster creation.

Here’s how it works:

  • With a single command, eksctl can create an EKS cluster and set up all necessary resources. It leverages default values, reducing your configuration effort.
  • If you need customization, you can override default values using parameters. This allows you to set cluster names, specify Kubernetes versions, and define node types, among other options.

Hands-on Demo: Creating an EKS Cluster with eksctl

Now, let’s dive into a step-by-step demonstration of how to create an EKS cluster using eksctl. This tool simplifies the process significantly, making cluster creation a breeze.


Before we begin, ensure you have the following prerequisites in place:

  1. Install eksctl: Use a package manager like Homebrew to install eksctl if you haven’t already.
brew tap weaveworks/tap
brew install weaveworks/tap/eksctl
  1. AWS Credentials: Make sure you have configured your AWS credentials on your local machine. If you haven’t, follow the AWS CLI Configuration Guide to set up your credentials.

Demo Steps

Now, let’s create an EKS cluster in just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Cluster Creation

Execute the eksctl create cluster command to initiate the EKS cluster creation. You can customize several parameters, but we’ll use basic options in this example.

eksctl create cluster --name test-cluster --version 1.21 --region us-west-2
  • --name: Set the desired name for your EKS cluster (here, it’s “test-cluster”).
  • --version: Specify the Kubernetes version (e.g., 1.21).
  • --region: Choose the AWS region where your cluster should be located (e.g., us-west-2).

This single command will handle the creation of the entire cluster, including the control plane and associated resources. Sit back and let eksctl do the heavy lifting.

Step 2: Worker Node Configuration

While creating the cluster, eksctl also allows you to configure worker nodes. However, for simplicity, we’re using default values in this demo.

Worker nodes are crucial because they host your containerized applications. They can be defined using parameters such as node group name, instance type, and desired node count. eksctl can manage these nodes efficiently based on your workload demands.

Step 3: Access Your Cluster

Once your cluster is up and running, you’ll need to configure kubectl, the Kubernetes command-line tool, to communicate with it. Fortunately, eksctl can help with that too.

aws eks --region us-west-2 update-kubeconfig --name test-cluster

This command ensures that kubectl is configured correctly to interact with your EKS cluster.

Step 4: Verifying Cluster Status

After a few minutes (cluster creation can take some time), you can check the status of your EKS cluster:

kubectl get nodes

If everything went smoothly, you should see your worker nodes listed, indicating that your EKS cluster is up and running.

Step 5: Cluster Cleanup (Optional)

Remember that AWS resources cost money, so if you’re done with your cluster, it’s a good practice to clean it up. eksctl can also help with this:

eksctl delete cluster --name test-cluster

This command will remove the entire EKS cluster and its associated resources, ensuring that you’re not incurring any unnecessary costs.

With these simple steps, you’ve created an EKS cluster, configured worker nodes, and gained access to it. The process is streamlined and efficient, thanks to eksctl.

In summary, eksctl simplifies EKS cluster creation and management, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced AWS users. It’s a powerful tool that can save you time and effort when working with Kubernetes on AWS.

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