Service Accounts

Service Accounts

Service accounts allow using a long-lived token that you can use to authenticate with Kubermatic Kubernetes Platform (KKP) API.

A service account is a special type of user account that belongs to the KKP project, instead of an individual end user. Your project resources assume the identity of the service account to call KKP APIs, so that the users are not directly involved. A service account has JWT token which is used to authenticate to KKP API. The JWT token by default expires after 3 years.

Core Concept

Service accounts are considered as project’s resource. Only the owner of the project can create a service account. There is no need to create a new groups for SA, we want to assign a service account to one of the already defined groups: editors, viewers or projectmanagers.

The KKP User object is used as a service account. To avoid confusion about the purpose of the user the name convention was introduced. Service account name starts with prefix serviceaccount-. The Regular user starts with name: user-. For example:

$ kubectl get users
NAME                                                               AGE
serviceaccount-z97l228h4z                                          7d
serviceaccount-zjl54fmlks                                          26d
user-26xq2                                                         311d

A service account is linked to the project automatically by service account binding controller. The controller creates UserProjectBinding which specifies a binding between a service account and a project. A UserProjectBinding uses a OwnerRef to create connection with the project. A service account will be automatically deleted after project removal.

The yaml example of service account object:

kind: User
  creationTimestamp: "2019-03-27T07:57:55Z"
  generation: 1
  name: serviceaccount-xxxxxxxxxx
  - apiVersion:
    kind: Project
    name: yyyyyyyyyy
    uid: c7694392-43e4-11e9-b04b-42010a9c0119
  email: serviceaccount-xxxxxxxxxx@localhost
  id: 3fa771ea25b4a2065ace5f3d508b2335d450402f0d73d5e59fa84b41_KUBE
  name: test

Service accounts are tied to a set of credentials stored as Secrets. Because a Secret is a namespaced resource the system needs a predefined namespace for it: kubermatic.

Secret label project-id is used to create link between secret and project. The OwnerRef links the secret with the service account. A secret will be automatically deleted after service account removal.

 apiVersion: v1
   token: abcdefgh=
 kind: Secret
     name: test
     project-id: yyyyyyyyyy
   name: sa-token-zzzzzzzzzz
   namespace: kubermatic
   - apiVersion:
     kind: User
     name: serviceaccount-xxxxxxxxxx
     uid: 26127a31-507a-11e9-9ea9-42010a9c0125
 type: Opaque


A service account is an automatically enabled authenticator that uses signed bearer tokens to verify requests. The KKP API takes a flag:

  • service-account-signing-key - A signing key authenticates the service account’s token value using HMAC. It is recommended to use a key with 32 bytes or longer.

Keeping Track of Service Accounts and Tokens

It is possible to create multiple service accounts for the given project. The service account name must be unique for project scope. The service account can have multiple tokens with unique names.

The display name of the service account and token is a good way to capture additional information, such as the purpose of the service account or token.

Managing Service Accounts and Tokens

It is possible to delete a service account and then create a new service account with the same name. You can do the same with service account token.

You can change the service account and token names when once created.

The service account token is visible to the user during creation.

Note: Make sure to save this token at a safe place on your own device. It cannot be displayed again after closing the dashboard window.

The user can also regenerate a token but the previous one will be revoked.

Accessing API via Service Account Token

A client that wants to authenticate itself with a server can then do so by including an Authorization request header field with the service account token:

Authorization: Bearer aaa.bbb.ccc