Adding OPA Gatekeeper to Your Kubernetes Cluster

  • Post category:Kubernetes
  • Post last modified:July 21, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, securing Kubernetes clusters is of paramount importance. OPA Gatekeeper, a powerful policy enforcement framework, can help you enforce policies and ensure the compliance of your Kubernetes workloads. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of adding OPA Gatekeeper to your Kubernetes cluster using SSH commands. By following these steps, you can strengthen the security of your cluster and maintain control over your deployments.

Step 1: Establish an SSH Connection to Your Kubernetes Cluster

To begin, establish an SSH connection to your Kubernetes cluster. Ensure that you have the necessary access credentials and the required SSH client installed on your local machine.

Step 2: Install OPA Gatekeeper

Once you are connected to your Kubernetes cluster via SSH, it’s time to install OPA Gatekeeper. Follow the steps below:

  • Download the latest release of OPA Gatekeeper by running the following command:
  • Apply the OPA Gatekeeper manifest by executing the following command:
kubectl apply -f gatekeeper.yaml
  • Verify the installation by checking the status of the Gatekeeper components:
kubectl get pods -n gatekeeper-system
  • Ensure that all the pods are in a “Running” state before proceeding.


Step 3: Create and Enforce Policies

With OPA Gatekeeper installed, you can now create and enforce policies for your Kubernetes workloads. Follow the steps below to get started:

  • Create a policy file (e.g., policy.yaml) using your preferred text editor. Specify the desired policy rules according to your organization’s security requirements. Here’s an example:
package k8srequiredlabels

deny[msg] {
msg := "Missing required label 'app'"
  • Apply the policy to the cluster by running the following command:
kubectl apply -f policy.yaml
  • Verify that the policy has been enforced by attempting to create a resource that violates the defined rules. For instance, create a deployment without the required label:
kubectl create deployment example --image=nginx
  • The deployment creation should fail, and you will receive an error message indicating the violation.

Step 4: Further Customizations and Advanced Usage

OPA Gatekeeper offers a wide range of customizations and advanced features to cater to specific use cases. Here are a few noteworthy options to explore:

Constraint Templates: You can create constraint templates to define reusable policy templates that can be instantiated with different parameters.
Configuring Constraints: You can configure constraints to apply specific policy rules to namespaces, resources, or clusters.
External Data Sources: OPA Gatekeeper allows you to incorporate external data sources, such as external APIs or databases, into your policy evaluation.
Consult the official OPA Gatekeeper documentation for more information on these advanced features and how to leverage them effectively.


In this article, we’ve covered the step-by-step process of adding OPA Gatekeeper to your Kubernetes cluster using SSH commands. By implementing OPA Gatekeeper, you can enhance the security of your cluster and enforce policies to ensure compliance with your organization’s requirements. Remember to regularly update and refine your policies to adapt to changing security needs. With OPA Gatekeeper, you can confidently protect your Kubernetes workloads and maintain a secure environment.

Ashutosh Dixit

I am currently working as a Senior Technical Support Engineer with VMware Premier Services for Telco. Before this, I worked as a Technical Lead with Microsoft Enterprise Platform Support for Production and Premier Support. I am an expert in High-Availability, Deployments, and VMware Core technology along with Tanzu and Horizon.

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