Add an EKS Cluster

Last modified on October 4, 2023

This guide describes how to manage access to an Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) cluster via the StrongDM Admin UI. Adding an EKS cluster takes place in both the Admin UI and in the AWS Management Console.


Before you begin, ensure that the EKS endpoint you are connecting is accessible from one of your StrongDM gateways or relays. See our guide on nodes for more information.

Get the AWS Username and Access Credentials

  1. In the AWS Management Console, go to Identity and Access Management (IAM) > Users and create a new access key ID and secret access key for the IAM user who will be accessing the EKS cluster. It does not need any specific rights.
  2. Additionally, copy the User Amazon Resource Name (ARN) because you will need it later.

Grant That User the Ability to Interact With Your Cluster

  1. While authenticated to the cluster using your existing connection method, run the following command to edit the aws-auth ConfigMap (YML file) within Kubernetes:
    kubectl edit -n kube-system configmap/aws-auth

  2. Copy the following snippet and paste it into the file under the data: heading:

        mapUsers: |
          - userarn: <USER_ARN>/<USERNAME>
            username: <USERNAME>
              - <GROUP>
  3. In that snippet, do the following:

    1. Replace <USER_ARN> with the ARN of the IAM user you created.
    2. Replace <USERNAME> with the IAM username.
    3. Under groups:, specify the appropriate group for the permissions level you want this StrongDM connection to have (see Kubernetes Roles for more details).


      mapUsers: |
        - userarn: arn:aws:iam::123456789012:user/aliceglick
          username: aliceglick
            - system:masters

    Also note that in the YML file, the indentation is critically important. If the indentation is wrong, the Edit command does not trigger an error message, but the change fails. Note that mapUsers should be at the same indent level as mapRoles in that file.

  4. Save the file and exit your text editor.

Add Your EKS Cluster in StrongDM

  1. Log in to the Admin UI and go to Infrastructure > Clusters.

  2. Click the Add cluster button.

  3. Select EKS as the Server Type and set other resource properties to configure how the StrongDM relay connects.

    EKS Cluster Setup in Admin UI
    EKS Cluster Setup in Admin UI
  4. Click Create to save the resource.

The Admin UI updates and shows your new cluster in a green or yellow state. Green indicates a successful connection. If it is yellow, click the pencil icon to the right of the server to reopen the Connection Details screen. Then click Diagnostics to determine where the connection is failing.

Resource properties

Configuration properties are visible when you add a Cluster Type or when you click to view the cluster’s settings. The following table describes the settings available for your EKS cluster.

Display NameRequiredMeaningful name to display the resource throughout StrongDM; exclude special characters like quotes (") or angle brackets (< or >)
Server TypeRequiredSelect Elastic Kubernetes Service
EndpointRequiredAPI server endpoint of the EKS cluster in the format <ID>.<REGION>, such as; relay server should be able to connect to your EKS endpoint
Bind InterfaceRead onlyAutomatically generated IP address value in the to IP address range; default is; preferred bind interface value can be modified later under Settings > Port Overrides
Port OverrideRead onlyAutomatically generated with a value between 1024 to 59999 as long as that port is not used by another resource; preferred port can be modified later under Settings > Port Overrides; after specifying the port override number, you must also update the kubectl configuration, which you can learn more about in section Port Overrides
Secret StoreOptionalCredential store location; defaults to Strong Vault; to learn more, see Secret Store options
Access Key IDRequiredAccess key ID, such as AKIAIOSFODNN7EXAMPLE, from the AWS key pair that you created in Step 1
Secret Access KeyRequiredSecret access key, such as wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY, from the AWS key pair that you created in Step 1
Server CARequiredPasted server certificate (plaintext or Base64-encoded), or imported PEM file; you can either generate the server certificate on the API server or get it in Base64 format from your existing Kubernetes configuration (kubeconfig) file
Cluster NameRequiredName of the EKS cluster
RegionRequiredRegion of the EKS cluster, such as us-west-1
Healthcheck NamespaceOptionalIf enabled for your organization, the namespace used for the resource healthcheck; defaults to default if empty; supplied credentials must have the rights to perform one of the following kubectl commands in the specified namespace: get pods, get deployments, or describe namespace
AuthenticationRequiredAuthentication method to access the cluster; select either Leased Credential (default) or Remote Identities (to use the Remote Identities of StrongDM users to access the cluster)
Healthcheck UsernameRequiredIf Authentication is set to Remote Identities, the username that should be used to verify StrongDM’s connection to it; username must already exist on the target cluster
Assume Role ARNOptionalRole ARN, such as arn:aws:iam::000000000000:role/RoleName, that allows users accessing this resource to assume a role using AWS AssumeRole functionality
Assume Role External IDOptionalExternal ID if leveraging an external ID to users assuming a role from another account; if used, it must be used in conjunction with Assume Role ARN; see the AWS documentation on using external IDs for more information
Resource TagsOptionalResource tags consisting of key-value pairs <KEY>=<VALUE> (for example, env=dev)

Management tips

You may find the following additional information useful:

  • Some Kubernetes management interfaces, such as Visual Studio Code, do not function properly with cluster names containing spaces. If you run into problems, please choose a Display Name without spaces.
  • When your users connect to this cluster, they have exactly the rights permitted by this AWS key pair. See AWS documentation for more information.
  • You can find information about your cluster in the AWS Management Console on your EKS cluster’s General configuration page.

Secret Store options

By default, server credentials are stored in StrongDM. However, these credentials can also be saved in a secrets management tool.

Non-StrongDM options appear in the Secret Store dropdown menu if they are created under Network > Secret Stores. When you select another Secret Store type, its unique properties display. For more details, see Configure Secret Store Integrations.