Developing Operators

This guide will provide introduction to creating KUDO operators, you will learn about the structure of the package and the template language to use.

Getting Started

In this section we’ll start by developing your first operator and we’ll follow up with in-depth explanation of the underlying concepts.

The overall structure of a package looks following:

├── operator.yaml
├── params.yaml
└── templates
    ├── deployment.yaml
    └── ...

The operator.yaml is the main YAML file defining both operator metadata as the whole lifecycle of the operator. params.yaml defines parameters of the operator. During installation, these parameters can be overridden allowing customization. templates folder contain all templated Kubernetes objects that will be applied to your cluster after installation based on the workflow defined in operator.yaml.

Your First KUDO Operator

First let’s create operator.yaml and place it in a first-operator folder.

name: "first-operator"
version: "0.1.0"
- Your name <>
      - deployment.yaml
    strategy: serial
      - name: main
        strategy: parallel
          - name: everything
              - nginx

This is an operator with just one plan deploy, which has one phase and one step and represents the minimal setup. The deploy plan is automatically triggered when you install instance of this operator into cluster.

You can see that the task nginx references the resource deployment.yaml. KUDO expects this file to exist inside the templates folder. As the next step, create templates/deployment.yaml:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
  name: nginx-deployment
      app: nginx
  replicas: {{ .Params.Replicas }} # tells deployment to run X pods matching the template
        app: nginx
        - name: nginx
          image: nginx:1.7.9
            - containerPort: 80

This is a pretty normal Kubernetes YAML file defining a deployment. However, you can already see the KUDO templating language in action on the line referencing .Params.Replicas. This will get substituted during installation by merging what is in params.yaml and overrides defined before install. So let’s define the last missing piece, params.yaml.

  description: Number of replicas that should be run as part of the deployment
  default: 2

Now your first operator is ready and you can install it to your cluster. You can do this by invoking kubectl kudo install ./first-operator where ./first-operator is a relative path to the folder containing your operator. To do this, you need to have the KUDO CLI installed - follow the instructions here, if you haven't already.

Note: If you want to install the result of the following steps with doing them manually, you can clone the KUDO repository and run the example from there:

git clone
cd kudo
kubectl kudo install ./config/samples/first-operator

Operator.yaml File

This is the main piece of every operator. It consists of two main parts. First one defines metadata about your operator.

name: operator
description: my first super awesome operator
version: "5.7"
kudoVersion: ">= 0.2.0"
kubernetesVersion: ">= 1.14"
  - Bob <>
  - Alice <>

Most of these are provided as a form of documentation. kudoVersion and kubernetesVersion use semver constraints to define minimal or maximal version of Kubernetes or KUDO that this operator supports. Under the hood, we use this library to evaluate the constraints.

Tasks Section

Another part of operator.yaml is the tasks section. Tasks are the smallest pieces of work that get executed together. You usually group Kubernetes manifests that should be applied at once into one task. An example can be a deploy task that will result in config.yaml and pod.yaml being applied to your cluster.

      - config.yaml
      - pod.yaml

Plans Section

Plans orchestrate tasks through phases and steps.

Each plan is a tree with a fixed three-level hierarchy of the plan itself, its phases (named collection of steps), and then steps within those phases. This three-level hierarchy can look as follows:

Plan foo
├─ Phase bar
│  ├─ Step qux
│  └─ Step quux
└─ Phase baz
   ├─ Step quuz
   ├─ Step corge
   └─ Step grault

Plans consists of one or more phases. Phases consists of one or more steps. Steps contain one or more tasks (those are defined in the section we talked about in the last paragraph). Both phases and also steps can be configured with an execution strategy, either serial or parallel.

The sample has a deploy plan with a deploy-phase and a deploy-step. From the deploy-step the deploy-task is referenced. This task gets executed when an instance is created using the operator.

At the same time, deploy plan is the most important plan within your operator because that is the default plan that every operator has to have and also the plan that gets executed when you install an instance of your operator into the cluster. Another important plan that you might consider having is update (run when instance metadata is updated) or upgrade (run when instance is upgraded from one version of the operator to another). If you don't provide update and/or upgrade plans for your operator, the fallback is always deploy.

    strategy: serial
      - name: deploy-phase
        strategy: parallel
          - name: deploy-step
              - deploy-task

Plans allow operators to see what the operator is currently doing, and to visualize the broader operation such as for a config rollout. The fixed structure of that information meanwhile makes it straightforward to build UIs and tooling on top.

Params File

params.yaml defines all parameters that can be used to customize your operator installation. You have to define the name of the parameter and optionally a default value. If not specified otherwise, all parameters in this list are treated as required parameters. For parameters that don't specify default values, you must provide a value during installation, otherwise the installation will fail.

A more detailed example of params.yaml may look as following:

  description: "The name of the backup file"
  default: backup.sql
  description: "This parameter is not required"
  required: false
  description: "This parameter is required but does not have default provided"
  default: password
  description: "Password for the mysql instance"
  trigger: deploy

Let's look at these parameters:

  • The backupFile parameter provides a default value, so a user does not need to specify anything unless they want to change that value.
  • The optionalParam is explicitly not required, so even though it doesn't come with a default value, not providing a value for this parameter won't fail the installation.
  • The requiredParam is required but does not provide a default value. For such parameters, users are expected to provide a value for kubectl kudo install youroperator -p requiredParam=value.
  • The password parameter exposes one more feature of params.yaml: you can trigger specific plans when changing a parameter.


trigger is an optional field which points to an existing plan in operator.yaml. When you update a parameter after an instance has been installed, the plan specified gets triggered as a result of your change. In other words, this plan will apply the parameter change to your Kubernetes objects. If no trigger is specified, the update plan will be triggered by default. If no update plan exists for this operator, the deploy plan is run.


Everything that is placed into the templates folder is treated as a template and passed on to the KUDO controller for rendering. KUDO uses the Sprig template library for server side templates rendering during installation. Thanks to Sprig you can use tens of different functions inside your templates. Some of them are inherited from go templates, some of them are defined by Sprig itself. See their documentation for reference.

Variables Provided by KUDO

  • .OperatorName - name of the operator the template belongs to
  • .Name - name of the instance to which Kubernetes objects created from this template will belong to
  • .Namespace - namespace in which instances are created
  • .Params - an object containing the list of parameters you defined in params.yaml with values you specified, or provided via overrides during installation

A more complex example using some of the built-in variables could look like the following templates/service.yaml

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
  name: svc
  {{ if eq .Params.METRICS_ENABLED "true" }}
    "": "true"
  {{ end }}
    - port: {{ .Params.BROKER_PORT }}
      name: server
    - port: {{ .Params.CLIENT_PORT }}
      name: client
    {{ if eq .Params.METRICS_ENABLED "true" }}
    - port: {{ .Params.METRICS_PORT }}
      name: metrics
    {{ end }}
  clusterIP: None
    app: kafka
    instance: {{ .Name }}

Testing Your Operator

You should aim for your operators being tested for day 1. To help you with testing your operator, we have developed a tool called test harness (it's also what we use to test KUDO itself). For more information please go to test harness documentation.