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Securing Kubernetes with Keycloak: Single Sign-On (SSO) and Identity Management


In today’s complex IT landscape, Kubernetes has become the backbone for deploying and managing containerized applications. With the growing importance of Kubernetes, the need for robust security measures, including Single Sign-On (SSO) and identity management, has become paramount. This article explores how to enhance the security of your Kubernetes cluster by integrating it with Keycloak, a powerful open-source identity and access management solution.

Understanding Kubernetes Security Challenges

Kubernetes provides robust security features, but there are still challenges, such as:

  1. Authentication: Ensuring that only authorized users and services can access your cluster.

  2. Authorization: Controlling who can perform what actions within the cluster.

  3. Identity Management: Managing user identities and service accounts.

  4. Single Sign-On (SSO): Allowing users to access multiple applications with a single set of credentials.

Enter Keycloak

Keycloak is a versatile identity and access management solution. It offers:

  • Authentication: Keycloak supports various authentication methods, including username and password, social logins, and multi-factor authentication.

  • Authorization: It provides fine-grained access control, allowing you to specify who can access your applications and what actions they can perform.

  • Identity Brokering: Keycloak can act as a central identity broker, integrating with various identity providers.

  • Single Sign-On (SSO): Keycloak enables SSO, reducing the need for users to remember multiple sets of credentials.

Securing Kubernetes with Keycloak

Here’s how to secure your Kubernetes cluster using Keycloak:

1. Deploying Keycloak with Persistence Volume

Step 1: Install Helm

To begin, you’ll need Helm, the Kubernetes package manager. Use the following commands to install Helm:

					curl -fsSL -o get_helm.sh https://raw.githubusercontent.com/helm/helm/main/scripts/get-helm-3
chmod 700 get_helm.sh

Step 2: Create a StorageClass and PersistentVolume

Create a StorageClass to manage local storage for Keycloak:

					apiVersion: storage.k8s.io/v1
kind: StorageClass
  name: local-storage
provisioner: kubernetes.io/no-provisioner
volumeBindingMode: WaitForFirstConsumer


Next, create a PersistentVolume for Keycloak with the following YAML configuration:

					apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolume
  name: keycloak-pv
  namespace: default
  storageClassName: local-storage
    name: keycloak-volume
    namespace: default
    storage: 2Gi
    - ReadWriteOnce
    path: /mnt/
      - matchExpressions:
        - key: kubernetes.io/hostname
          operator: In
          - node01


Create a PersistentVolumeClaim for Keycloak to use the previously created storage:

					apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
  name: keycloak-volume
  namespace: default
  - ReadWriteOnce
      storage: 2Gi
  storageClassName: local-storage

2. Installing Keycloak with Helm

Now that you have set up the persistence volume, it’s time to install Keycloak using Helm. First, add the Codecentric Helm chart repository:

					helm repo add codecentric https://codecentric.github.io/helm-charts

Create a configuration file for Keycloak:

					helm show values codecentric/keycloak > abs.yaml


Finally, install Keycloak with the following command, specifying the Helm values file as “abs.yaml”:

					helm install keycloak codecentric/keycloak --values abs.yaml
3. Keycloak Configuration

During installation, you can configure Keycloak, including setting the Keycloak admin user and password. Ensure that these values match your security requirements:

					- name: KEYCLOAK_USER
  value: admin

  value: admin


Benefits of Kubernetes + Keycloak Integration

  • Enhanced Security: Robust authentication and authorization mechanisms protect your cluster.

  • Centralized Identity Management: Manage users and service accounts in one place.

  • SSO for Applications: Users can access multiple applications with a single set of credentials.

  • Identity Federation: Easily integrate with external identity providers.

  • Auditing and Compliance: Track user activity and ensure compliance.

Real-World Use Cases

  • Multi-Tenant Clusters: Keycloak helps manage user identities and access in multi-tenant Kubernetes clusters.

  • Team-Based Access Control: Define roles and permissions for different teams within your organization.

  • Integration with External Services: Use Keycloak as an identity broker for accessing external services securely.


Kubernetes is a powerful platform for container orchestration, but ensuring the security of your cluster is paramount. By integrating Kubernetes with Keycloak for Single Sign-On (SSO) and identity management, you can significantly enhance the security posture of your cluster. Whether you’re running a multi-tenant environment or need to streamline access control for your teams, Keycloak offers a flexible and powerful solution for Kubernetes security.

With Keycloak in place, you can enjoy the benefits of simplified authentication, centralized identity management, and robust authorization mechanisms, allowing you to focus on your applications’ deployment and performance, while Keycloak takes care of security and access control.