Spying on your Kubernetes with Kubewatch

At Cloud Practice we aim to encourage adoption of the cloud as a way of working in the IT world. To help with this task, we are going to publish numerous good practice articles and use cases and others will talk about those key services within the cloud.

This time we will talk about Kubewatch.

What is Kubewatch?

Kubewatch is a utility developed by Bitnami Labs that enables notifications to be sent to various communication systems.

Supported webhooks are:

  • Slack
  • Hipchat
  • Mattermost
  • Flock
  • Webhook
  • Smtp

Kubewatch integration with Slack

The available images are published in the bitnami/kubewatch GitHub

You can download the latest version to test it in your local environment:

$ docker pull bitnami/kubewatch 

Once inside the container, you can play with the options:

$ kubewatch -h

Kubewatch: A watcher for Kubernetes

kubewatch is a Kubernetes watcher that publishes notifications
to Slack/hipchat/mattermost/flock channels. It watches the cluster
for resource changes and notifies them through webhooks.

supported webhooks:
 - slack
 - hipchat
 - mattermost
 - flock
 - webhook
 - smtp

  kubewatch [flags]
  kubewatch [command]

Available Commands:
  config      modify kubewatch configuration
  resource    manage resources to be watched
  version     print version

  -h, --help   help for kubewatch

Use "kubewatch [command] --help" for more information about a command. 

For what types of resources can you get notifications?

When will you receive a notification?

As soon as there is an action on a Kubernetes object, as well as creation, destruction or updating.


Firstly, create a Slack channel and associate a webhook with it. To do this, go to the Apps section of Slack, search for “Incoming WebHooks” and press “Add to Slack”:

If there is no channel created for this purpose, register a new one:

In this example, the channel to be created will be called “k8s-notifications”. Then you have to configure the webhook at the “Incoming WebHooks” panel and adding a new configuration where you will need to select the name of the channel to which you want to send notifications. Once selected, the configuration will return a ”Webhook URL” that will be used to configure Kubewatch. Optionally, you can select the icon (“Customize Icon” option) that will be shown on the events and the name with which they will arrive (“Customize Name” option).

You are now ready to configure the Kubernetes resources. There are some example manifests and also the option of installing by Helm on the Kubewatch GitHub However, here we will build our own.

First, create a file “kubewatch-configmap.yml” with the ConfigMap that will be used to configure the Kubewatch container:

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: kubewatch
  .kubewatch.yaml: |
        url: https://hooks.slack.com/services/<your_webhook>
      deployment: true
      replicationcontroller: true
      replicaset: false
      daemonset: true
      services: true
      pod: false
      job: false
      secret: true
      configmap: true
      persistentvolume: true
      namespace: false 

You simply need to enable the types of resources on which you wish to receive notifications with “true” or disable them with “false”. Also set the url of the Incoming WebHook registered previously.

Now, for your container to have access the Kubernetes resources through its api, register the “kubewatch-service-account.yml” file with a Service Account, a Cluster Role and a Cluster Role Binding:

kind: ClusterRole
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1
  name: kubewatch
- apiGroups: ["*"]
  resources: ["pods", "pods/exec", "replicationcontrollers", "namespaces", "deployments", "deployments/scale", "services", "daemonsets", "secrets", "replicasets", "persistentvolumes"]
  verbs: ["get", "watch", "list"]
apiVersion: v1
kind: ServiceAccount
  name: kubewatch
  namespace: default
apiVersion: rbac.authorization.k8s.io/v1beta1
kind: ClusterRoleBinding
  name: kubewatch
  apiGroup: rbac.authorization.k8s.io
  kind: ClusterRole
  name: kubewatch
  - kind: ServiceAccount
    name: kubewatch
    namespace: default 

Finally, create a “kubewatch.yml” file to deploy the application:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
  name: kubewatch
  namespace: default
  serviceAccountName: kubewatch
  - image: bitnami/kubewatch:0.0.4
    imagePullPolicy: Always
    name: kubewatch
      - configMapRef:
          name: kubewatch
    - name: config-volume
      mountPath: /opt/bitnami/kubewatch/.kubewatch.yaml
      subPath: .kubewatch.yaml
  - image: bitnami/kubectl:1.16.3
      - proxy
      - "-p"
      - "8080"
    name: proxy
    imagePullPolicy: Always
  restartPolicy: Always
  - name: config-volume
      name: kubewatch
      defaultMode: 0755 

You will see that the value of the “mountPath” key will be the file path where the configuration of your ConfigMap will be written within the container (/opt/bitnami/kubewatch/.kubewatch.yaml). You can expand the information on how to mount configurations in Kubernetes here. In this example, you can see that our application deployment will be through a single pod. Obviously, in a production system you would need to define a Deployment with the number of replicas considered appropriate to keep it active, even in case of loss of the pod.

Once the manifests are ready apply them to your cluster:

$ kubectl apply  -f kubewatch-configmap.yml -f kubewatch-service-account.yml -f kubewatch.yml 

The service will be ready in a few seconds:

$ kubectl get pods |grep -w kubewatch

kubewatch                                  2/2     Running     0          1m 

The Kubewatch pod has two containers associated: Kubewatch and kube-proxy, the latter to connect to the API.

$   kubectl get pod kubewatch  -o jsonpath='{.spec.containers[*].name}'

kubewatch proxy 

Check through the logs that the two containers have started up correctly and without error messages:

$ kubectl logs kubewatch kubewatch

==> Config file exists...
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg=kubewatch-daemonset
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg=kubewatch-service
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg="kubewatch-replication controller"
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg="kubewatch-persistent volume"
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg=kubewatch-secret
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg=kubewatch-deployment
level=info msg="Starting kubewatch controller" pkg=kubewatch-namespace
$ kubectl logs kubewatch proxy

Starting to serve on 

You could also access the Kubewatch container to test the cli, view the configuration, etc.:

$  kubectl exec -it kubewatch -c kubewatch /bin/bash 

Your event notifier is now ready!

Now you need to test it. Let’s use the creation of a deployment as an example to test proper operation:

$ kubectl create deployment nginx-testing --image=nginx
$ kubectl logs -f  kubewatch kubewatch

level=info msg="Processing update to deployment: default/nginx-testing" pkg=kubewatch-deployment 

The logs now alert you that the new event has been detected, so go to your Slack channel to confirm it:

The event has been successfully reported!

Now you can eliminate the test deployment:

$ kubectl delete deploy nginx-testing 


Obviously, Kubewatch does not replace the basic warning and monitoring systems that all production orchestrators need to maintain, but it does provide an easy and effective way to extend control over the creation and modification of resources in Kubernetes. In this example case we performed a Kubewatch configuration across the whole cluster, “spying” on all kinds of events, some of which are perhaps useless if the platform is maintained as a service, as we would be aware of each of the pods created, removed or updated by each development team in its own namespace, which is common, legitimate and does not add value. It may be more appropriate to filter by the namespaces for which you wish to receive notifications, such as kube-system, which is where we generally host administrative services and where only administrators should have access. In that case, you would simply need to specify the namespace in your ConfigMap:

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
  name: kubewatch
  .kubewatch.yaml: |
    namespace: "kube-system"
        url: https://hooks.slack.com/services/<your_webhook>
      deployment: true
      replicationcontroller: true
      replicaset: false 

Another interesting utility may be to “listen” to our cluster after a significant configuration adjustment, such as our self-scaling strategy, integration tools and so on, as it will always notify us of the scale ups and scale downs, which could be especially useful initially. In short, Kubewatch extends control over clusters, and we decide the scope we give it. In later articles we will look at how to manage logs and metrics productively.

Do you want to know more about what we offer and to see other success stories?