Create policies for a multi-tenant cluster

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This tutorial shows you how to use Config Sync and Kustomize to configure policies for namespaces in a multi-tenant cluster.

In Kubernetes, a tenant can be a team or a workload. For multi-tenant clusters, the best practice is to create a namespace for each tenant. Then, each namespace can have policies suited to their different needs. You can use Config Sync to consistently apply these policies to each of your different tenants.

Repository architecture

In this tutorial, you configure Config Sync to sync to the configs in the namespace-specific-policy/ directory of the Anthos Config Management samples repository. This directory contains the following directories and files:

├── configsync
│   ├── tenant-a
│   │   ├── ~g_v1_namespace_default.yaml
│   │   ├── networking.k8s.io_v1_networkpolicy_deny-all.yaml
│   │   ├── rbac.authorization.k8s.io_v1_rolebinding_tenant-admin-rolebinding.yaml
│   │   └── rbac.authorization.k8s.io_v1_role_tenant-admin.yaml
│   ├── tenant-b
│   │   ├── ~g_v1_namespace_default.yaml
│   │   ├── networking.k8s.io_v1_networkpolicy_deny-all.yaml
│   │   ├── rbac.authorization.k8s.io_v1_rolebinding_tenant-admin-rolebinding.yaml
│   │   └── rbac.authorization.k8s.io_v1_role_tenant-admin.yaml
│   └── tenant-c
│       ├── ~g_v1_namespace_default.yaml
│       ├── networking.k8s.io_v1_networkpolicy_deny-all.yaml
│       ├── rbac.authorization.k8s.io_v1_rolebinding_tenant-admin-rolebinding.yaml
│       └── rbac.authorization.k8s.io_v1_role_tenant-admin.yaml
├── configsync-src
│   ├── base
│   │   ├── kustomization.yaml
│   │   ├── namespace.yaml
│   │   ├── networkpolicy.yaml
│   │   ├── rolebinding.yaml
│   │   └── role.yaml
│   ├── tenant-a
│   │   └── kustomization.yaml
│   ├── tenant-b
│   │   └── kustomization.yaml
│   └── tenant-c
│       └── kustomization.yaml
└── scripts

This repository is an unstructured repository. This gives you the flexibility to organize your configs in the way that you want, which is particularly useful when you are working with Kustomize.

In this repository, there are three namespaces for three different tenants; tenant-a, tenant-b, and tenant-c. Each of the namespace directories contains configs for Roles, RoleBindings, and NetworkPolicies. The configsync- src directory contains the configuration in kustomize format. The directory configsync-src contains the configuration in kustomize format.There is one base and three overlays tenant-a, tenant-b, and tenant-c.


  • Update a Kustomize overlay.

  • Create a cluster that you can use with Config Sync.

  • Sync the policies in your Git repository to a cluster.

  • Verify that the cluster is syncing to the configs in your repository.


This tutorial uses the following billable components of Google Cloud:

To generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage, use the pricing calculator. New Google Cloud users might be eligible for a free trial.

When you finish this tutorial, you can avoid continued billing by deleting the resources you created. For more information, see Clean up.

Before you begin

Before you start this tutorial, complete the following tasks:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  2. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Cloud project. Learn how to check if billing is enabled on a project.

  3. Create, or have access to, a GitHub account.
  4. Install Kustomize by running the following command:

    gcloud components install kustomize

It's also helpful to have some familiarity with Git and Kustomize.

Update a Kustomize file

In the following section, you update a Kustomize file in your repository to update the policies applied to tenant-a.

Prepare your environment

To prepare your environment, complete the following steps:

  1. Fork the repository:

    1. Go to the Anthos Config Management samples directory repository in GitHub.
    2. Click Fork.
  2. Clone the forked repository:

    git clone

    Replace GITHUB_USERNAME with your GitHub username.

  3. Navigate to the directory that contains the examples used in this tutorial:

    cd anthos-config-management-samples/namespace-specific-policy

Update an overlay

In this section you update an overlay. An overlay is a kustomization that depends on another kustomization.

The following steps show you how to give a new role to tenant-a by updating its overlay; acm-samples/namespace-specific-policy/configsync-src/tenant-a. Since you are only updating one configuration, you only need to update one overlay.

To give tenant-a this new role, complete the following steps:

  1. Create a new file by navigating to the following page in GitHub:
  2. Name your file another-role.yaml.

  3. In the Edit new file window, paste the following YAML manifest for the new role:

    kind: Role
      name: pod-reader
    - apiGroups: [""]
      resources: ["pods"]
      verbs: ["get", "watch", "list"]
  4. Click Commit new file.

    Now you can include the config for the new role in the kustomization.yaml file.

  5. In your /namespace-specific-policy/configsync-src/tenant-a folder, open kustomization.yaml and click the edit icon (which looks like a pencil).

  6. Under the resources section of kustomization.yaml, add - another-role.yaml:

    namespace: tenant-a
    - ../base
    - another-role.yaml
    # The rest of the file is omitted
  7. Click Commit changes.

  8. After the update, rebuild the Kustomize output for each namespace by running the script:

  9. Commit and push the update:

    git add .
    git commit -m 'update configuration'
    git push

Create and register a GKE cluster

In this section you create and configure a cluster that you can use with Config Sync.

Create a cluster


To create a cluster with the Google Cloud console, perform the following tasks:

  1. Visit the Google Kubernetes Engine menu in Google Cloud console.

    Visit Google Kubernetes Engine

  2. Click Create.

  3. In the Standard section, click Configure.

  4. In the Cluster basics section, complete the following:

    1. Enter mt-cluster as the Name for your cluster.
    2. From the Zone drop-down list, select us-central1-c.
    3. Leave all other fields with their recommended defaults.
  5. In the left-hand menu, click default-pool and in the drop-down list that appears, click Nodes.

  6. In the Nodes section, complete the following:

    1. In the Machine type drop-down list, select e2-standard-4.
    2. Leave all other fields as their default values.
  7. In the left-hand menu, select Security.

  8. In the Security section, select the Enable Workload Identity checkbox.

  9. Click Create. It can take several minutes for your cluster to be created.


To create a cluster with the Google Cloud CLI, perform the following task:

gcloud container clusters create mt-cluster \
    --project PROJECT_ID \
    --zone us-central1-c \
    --release-channel regular \
    --machine-type "e2-standard-4" \

Replace PROJECT_ID with your project ID.

Get authentication credentials for the cluster

After creating your cluster, you need to get authentication credentials to interact with the cluster:

gcloud container clusters get-credentials mt-cluster --zone us-central1-c

Give yourself admin permissions

Once your cluster is created, grant yourself the GKE Hub Admin role that you need to Config Sync.


To give yourself admin permissions with the Google Cloud console, perform the following task:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the IAM page.

    Go to the IAM page

  2. Click Add.

  3. In the New members field, enter an email address. You can add individuals, service accounts, or Google Groups as members.

  4. In the Select a role drop-down list, search for and select GKE Hub Admin.

  5. Click Save.


To give yourself admin permission with the Google Cloud CLI, perform the following tasks:

gcloud projects add-iam-policy-binding PROJECT_ID \
    --member=MEMBER \

Replace the following:

  • PROJECT_ID: your project ID
  • MEMBER: An identifier for the member, which usually has the following form: member-type:id For example, For a full list of the values that member can have, see the Policy Binding reference.

Register your cluster

After your cluster is created, you can register your cluster to a fleet.


To register your cluster with the Google Cloud console, perform the following tasks:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Anthos Clusters page.

    Go to the Anthos Clusters page

  2. Click Register existing cluster.

  3. Next to mt-cluster, click Register. If you don't see this cluster in the list, make sure that it's created.

    Example output:

    Cluster mt-cluster registered successfully as mt-cluster in project PROJECT_NAME.


To register your cluster with the Google Cloud CLI, perform the following task:

gcloud container fleet memberships register MEMBERSHIP_NAME \
 --gke-cluster=us-central1-c/mt-cluster \

Replace the following:

  • MEMBERSHIP_NAME: the membership name that you choose to uniquely represent the cluster being registered to the fleet.

Configure Config Sync

In this section, you configure Config Sync so that it syncs to the policies in the namespace-specific-policy/ directory.

To configure Config Sync, complete the following steps:


To configure Config Sync with the Google Cloud console, perform the following tasks:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Anthos Config Management page.

    Go to Anthos Config Management

  2. Select mt-cluster and click Configure.

  3. In the Git Repository Authentication for ACM section, select None and click Continue.

  4. In the ACM settings for your clusters section, complete the following:

    1. In the Version field, select a version of 1.7 or later.
    2. Select the Enable Config Sync checkbox and complete the following fields:
      1. In the URL field, add
      2. In the Branch field, add main
      3. In the Tag/Commit field, add HEAD
      4. In the Configuration directory field, add namespace-specific-policy/configsync
      5. Leave the Sync wait field blank.
      6. Leave the Git proxy field blank.
      7. In the Source format drop-down list, select unstructured.
  5. Click Done. You are taken back to the Anthos Config Management page. After a few minutes, you should see Synced in the status column next to the cluster that you configured.


To configure Config Sync with the Google Cloud CLI, perform the following tasks:

  1. Create a file named apply-spec.yaml and copy the following YAML file into it:

    # apply-spec.yaml
    applySpecVersion: 1
        # Set to true to install and enable Config Sync
        enabled: true
        sourceFormat: unstructured
        syncBranch: main
        secretType: none
        policyDir: namespace-specific-policy/configsync

    Replace GITHUB_USERNAME with your GitHub username.

  2. Apply the apply-spec.yaml file:

     gcloud beta container fleet config-management apply \
         --membership=MEMBERSHIP_NAME \
         --config=CONFIG_YAML_PATH \

    Replace the following:

    • MEMBERSHIP_NAME: the membership name that you chose when you registered your cluster, you can find the name with gcloud container fleet memberships list.
    • CONFIG_YAML_PATH: the path to your apply-spec.yaml file
    • PROJECT_ID: your project ID

Verify that namespace specific policies are synced

Now that you have installed Config Sync, you can verify that the namespace specific policies are synced to your cluster by using the nomos status command:

nomos status

You should see output similar the following example:

  <root>   https:/
  SYNCED   bf8655aa
  Managed resources:
     NAMESPACE   NAME                                                             STATUS
                 namespace/foo                                                    Current
                 namespace/istio-system                                           Current
                 namespace/tenant-a                                               Current
                 namespace/tenant-b                                               Current
                 namespace/tenant-c                                               Current
     tenant-a                         Current
     tenant-a                      Current
     tenant-a   Current
     tenant-b                         Current
     tenant-b                      Current
     tenant-b   Current
     tenant-c                         Current
     tenant-c                      Current
     tenant-c   Current

Next, confirm that the resources exist on the cluster. The following examples show you how to check some of the resources for tenant-a.

  1. Verify the RoleBinding for tenant-a exists:

    kubectl get RoleBinding/tenant-admin-rolebinding -n tenant-a

    Example output:

    NAME                       ROLE                AGE
    tenant-admin-rolebinding   Role/tenant-admin   23h
  2. Verify that the Role for tenant-a exists:

    kubectl get Role/tenant-admin -n tenant-a

    Example output:

    NAME           CREATED AT
    tenant-admin   2021-05-24T21:49:06Z
  3. Verify the NetworkPolicy for tenant-a extsts:

    kubectl get NetworkPolicy/deny-all -n tenant-a

    Example output:

    deny-all   <none>         23h

By using these commands, you can see that each namespace has its own set of policies, following the best practice for multi-tenant clusters.

Clean up

To avoid incurring charges to your Google Cloud account for the resources used in this tutorial, either delete the project that contains the resources, or keep the project and delete the individual resources.

Delete the project

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Manage resources page.

    Go to Manage resources

  2. In the project list, select the project that you want to delete, and then click Delete.
  3. In the dialog, type the project ID, and then click Shut down to delete the project.

Delete the directory

To clean up the tenant namespaces and policies for them, we recommend that you remove the directories that contain their configuration from your Git repository:

rm -r acm-samples/namespace-specific-policy/configsync/tenant-*/*
git add .
git commit -m 'clean up'
git push

When the last commit from the root repository is synced, the three namespaces tenant-a, tenant-b, and tenant-c are deleted from the cluster.

What's next