OCI – Using Open Service Broker within Kubernetes to bind to Autonomous Databases

Kubernetes is a great platform to run microservices, there is no question about it. It has great features like Horizontal Pod Autoscaler and Cluster Autoscaler that make it very easy to scale whole applications depending on current or forecasted load. However with auto-scaling there are a few considerations that we need to keep in mind and one of the most important ones is that containers are ephemeral, which implies that we need to design our applications in such a way that they can scale, without compromising data persistency. There are multiple techniques available to make this possible. A common way to achieve this, is by using Persistent Volumes (PV) and Persistent Volumes Claims (PVC), that hook via the CSI (Container Storage Interface) into external disk volumes. This helps maintain state outside containers, allowing them to scale without compromising the data.

Also, with the constant embrace of Cloud providers to kubernetes, these solutions are quickly also evolving and becoming more sophisticated and easier to use. For example, now days we can extend the use of PVC with Storage Classes, implemented by the different Cloud vendors. This make the whole PV/PVC experience so enjoyable, as these storage classes become responsible to interface into the Cloud vendor IaaS land and create resources that we simply declared, while we keep reading and writing data in persistent disks.

Now, with this constant multi-cloud endorsement with kubernetes, it was a matter of time, until Cloud vendors decided to differentiate themselves by allowing the use of foreign cloud services, as first-class citizens in kubernetes. Just imagine, having the ability to use a PaaS service from “Cloud Vendor A”, seamlessly from within my kubernetes cluster that is running on “Cloud Vendor B”. The piece of magic that makes this possible is called, Open Service Broker (OSB), which is really not magic, but just a bunch of APIs that allow the control plane in kubernetes to interact with Cloud services.

In this blog, I am going to show you how to consume Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) resources from within kubernetes using the Open Service Broker. Specifically, I am going to let my kubernetes control plane to fully manage an OCI Autonomous Transaction Processing DB (ATP), as if it was a native kubernetes resource… And by the way, I am going to use OKE (Oracle managed Kubernetes), but you could very well use Google/AWS/Azure Kubernetes elsewhere and still consume OCI resources. How cool is that?

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OCI – Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) – Using RBAC with IAM

In a recent blog, I explained how to approve in Kubernetes external certificate signing requests from end users. This way, users can then simply use their private keys to authenticate into Kubernetes API server. Further to this, Role Based Access Control (RBAC) can be put in place to authorise access to resources in kubernetes clusters. This is amazing and provides some level of governance, however there is a caveat, since kubernetes does not hold neither users nor groups, the identities must exist outside the cluster somewhere else. If we create external CSRs with non-existent users and groups, soon it will become very hard to properly manage all the identities, especially if we have to maintain multiple users accessing the cluster. This is yet another area that gets highly simplified when Cloud vendors embrace kubernetes as first class citizens.

In this blog, I am going to show you how to create and manage your identities in OCI IAM and simply, using such identities to access Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) clusters and authorise access to resources.

In a nutshell, this is what I am going to do:

  1. Create a new user/group in OCI IAM
  2. Configure an OCI policy to grant access to my user’s group to access the OKE clusters
  3. Create Roles and Role Bindings (RBAC) in OKE to authorise our user to access OKE resources
  4. Download a kubeconfig set for my new user using token validation
  5. Use kubectl to access only granted resources.

Ok, let’s have fun!!!

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OCI – Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) – Using Client Certificates and RBAC

Kubernetes has been proven the best way that we have today to run microservices deployments, whether it is via a Serverless approach or by managing your own deployments in the cluster. This has solidified with the strong adoption of Kubernetes by all the major Cloud Vendors, as the strategic way to orchestrate containers and run serverless functions.

However, one of the situations that we need to be mindful, is that kubernetes creates by default a super powerful user that has full access to almost every resource in the cluster (accessible via kubectl or directly though APIs). This is very convenient for most dev & test scenarios, but it is imperative that for production workloads, we limit such power and use Role Base Access Control (RBAC), stable since version 1.8, for fine-grained authorisation access control to kubernetes cluster resources.

For the purpose of this demo, I am assuming some familiarity with Kubernetes and kubectl. I will mainly focus on the Authentication and Authorisation aspects that allow us to use Client certificates to get access to protected resources in a Kubernetes cluster.

In a nutshell this is what I am going to do:

  1. Create and use Client certificates to authenticate into a Kubernetes cluster
  2. Create a Role Base Access Control to fine grain authorise resources in the Kubernetes cluster
  3. Configure kubectl with the new security context, to properly limit access to resources in the Kubernetes cluster.

This is a super simplified visual representation:

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Calling OCI APIs from Postman

Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure has been designed in an API-first manner, which is awesome for all sorts of infrastructure automation tasks. It also implements an interesting API security model, in which all requests must be signed using a private key, associated with a public key which has already been configured in OCI (here, the developers are showing their infrastructure roots, as this echoes how SSH Auth is normally handled). The documentation of this model provides sample code in a number of languages, which is perfect if you are writing automation scripts, but is a little inflexible for ad-hoc testing. Typically I much prefer to use a rich graphical REST client, such a Postman, so that I can easily tweak my parameters and try out different types of calls before I write any code. Unfortunately while Postman is well equipped for Basic and Token based Auth, HTTP-Signature is not natively implemented, and rather than abandon Postman for a new tool, I set out to implement it using Postman’s powerful scripting capabilities. In this blog post I provide the result of this, which is a downloadable collection which provides all of the required scripts, and discuss the approach used.

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Getting started with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Internet and NAT Gateways

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure makes it easy to allow secured ways to let your compute instances in the Oracle Public Cloud to reach the internet, as well as being reachable from the Internet when needed. There are 2 main types of Networking Gateways that makes this easy to implement:

  • Internet Gateway: This type of gateway is directly attached to your Virtual Cloud Network (VCN) and lets your compute instances, that reside in a public subnet, to reach the Internet and being reachable from the Internet. A classic example of this is a bastion host that needs to be accessed via SSH from outside your VCN and that also needs connectivity to the Internet.
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Enhance the security of your website with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s Web Application Firewall

Oracle recently introduced a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to further enhance and secure Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offerings. The Oracle Cloud Infrastructure WAF is based on Oracle Zenedge and Oracle Dyn technologies. It inspects all traffic destined to your web application origin and identifies and blocks all malicious traffic. The WAF offers the following tools, which can be used on any website, regardless of where it is being hosted:

  • Origin management
  • Bot management
  • Access control
  • Over 250 robust protection rules that include the OWASP rulesets to protect against SQL injection, cross-site scripting, HTML injection, and more

In this post, I configure a set of access control WAF policies to a website. Access control defines explicit actions for requests that meet conditions based on URI, request headers, client IP address, or countries and regions.

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AUSOUG Connect 2018 – Talking Dev

ausoug-title-01.pngIn November 2018, I had the privilege to attend the Australian Oracle User Group national conference “#AUSOUG Connect” in Melbourne. My role was to have video interviews with as many of the speakers and exhibitors at the conference. Overall, 10 interviews over the course of the day, 90 mins of real footage, 34 short clips to share and plenty of hours reviewing and post-editing to capture the best parts.

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