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Logging in a Kubernetes environment


This functionality is not officially supported. This document explains how to enable aggregated logging in your Kubernetes cluster. There are many ways to do this and this document showcases only a few of the options.

EFK stack

A common Kubernetes logging pattern is the combination of Elasticsearch, Fluentd, and Kibana, known as EFK Stack.

Fluentd is an open-source and multi-platform log processor that collects data/logs from different sources, aggregates, and forwards them to multiple destinations. It is fully compatible with Docker and Kubernetes environments.

Elasticsearch is a distributed open search and analytics engine for all types of data.

Kibana is an open-source front-end application that sits on top of Elasticsearch, providing search and data visualization capabilities for data indexed in Elasticsearch.

There are different methods to deploy an EFK stack. We provide two deployment methods, the first is deploying EFK locally on Kubernetes, and the second is using a managed Elasticsearch instance outside the Kubernetes cluster.

Local EFK stack

This solution deploys the EFK stack inside the Kubernetes cluster. By setting fluentd.enabled value to true, Helm installs Fluentd on each of application pods. This means that after deployment all the product pods run Fluentd, which collects all the log files and sends them to the Fluentd aggregator container.

To complete the EFK stack you need to install an Elasticsearch cluster and Kibana, and successfully forward the aggregated datalog to Elasticsearch using Fluentd, which is already installed.

Follow these steps to install Elasticsearch

1. Install Elasticsearch

Install Elasticsearch using the instructions documented here. Once installed make sure Elasticsearch cluster is working as expected by first port forwarding the service

kubectl port-forward svc/elasticsearch-master 9200

you can then curl the endpoint for the current state

$ curl localhost:9200
  "name" : "elasticsearch-master-0",
  "cluster_name" : "elasticsearch",
  "cluster_uuid" : "uNdYC-2nSdWVdzPCw9P7jQ",
  "version" : {
       "number" : "7.12.0",
       "build_flavor" : "default",
       "build_type" : "docker",
       "build_hash" : "78722783c38caa25a70982b5b042074cde5d3b3a",
       "build_date" : "2021-03-18T06:17:15.410153305Z",
       "build_snapshot" : false,
       "lucene_version" : "8.8.0",
       "minimum_wire_compatibility_version" : "6.8.0",
       "minimum_index_compatibility_version" : "6.0.0-beta1"
  "tagline" : "You Know, for Search"

2. Enable Fluentd

Now enable Fluentd and set the hostname for Elasticsearch in values.yaml as follows:

   enabled: true
     hostname: elasticsearch-master
Fluentd tries to parse and send the data to Elasticsearch, but since it's not installed the data is lost. At this point you have logged data in the installed Elasticsearch, and you should install Kibana to complete the EFK stack deployment:

3. Install Kibana

With the same version that was used for installing Elasticsearch, use the imageTag property to install Kibana:

helm install kibana --namespace <namespace> --set imageTag="7.9.3" elastic/kibana

Make sure kibana is running by checking the deployment

kubectl get deployment
You should see something like...
NAME                               READY   UP-TO-DATE   AVAILABLE   AGE
helm-operator                      1/1           1            1     23m
ingress-nginx-release-controller   1/1           1            1     22m
kibana-kibana                      1/1           1            1     25m
Through port-forwarding you can access Kibana via http://localhost:5601
kubectl port-forward deployment/kibana-kibana 5601
To visualise the logs you need to create an index pattern and then look at the the data in the discovery part. To create the index pattern go to ManagementStack Management and then select KibanaIndex Patterns.

Managed EFK stack

In this solution Elasticsearch is deployed as a managed AWS service and lives outside of the Kubernetes cluster. This approach uses Fluentbit instead of Fluentd for log processing.


Fluentbit is used to collect and aggregate log data inside the EKS cluster. It then sends this to an AWS Elasticsearch instance outside of the cluster.

When a node inside an EKS cluster needs to call an AWS API, it needs to provide extended permissions. Amazon provides an image of Fluentbit that supports AWS service accounts,and using this you no longer need to follow the traditional way. All you need is to have an IAM role for the AWS service account on an EKS cluster. Using this service account, an AWS permission can be provided to the containers in any pod that use that service account. The result is that the pods on that node can call AWS APIs.

Your first step is to configure IAM roles for Service Accounts (IRSA) for Fluentbit, to make sure you have an OIDC identity provider to use IAM roles for the service account in the cluster:

eksctl utils associate-iam-oidc-provider \
     --cluster <cluster_name> \
Then create an IAM policy to limit the permissions to connect to the Elasticsearch cluster. Before this, you need to set the following environment variables:

Environment variable Value
KUBE_NAMESPACE The namespace for kubernetes cluster
ES_DOMAIN_NAME Elasticsearch domain name
ES_VERSION Elasticsearch version
ES_USER Elasticsearch username
ES_PASSWORD Elasticsearch password (eg. export ES_PASSWORD="$(openssl rand -base64 8)_Ek1$")
AWS_REGION AWS region code

Now create the file fluent-bit-policy.json to define the policy itself:

cat <<EoF > ~/environment/logging/fluent-bit-policy.json
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
             "Action": [
             "Resource": "arn:aws:es:${AWS_REGION}:${ACCOUNT_ID}:domain/${ES_DOMAIN_NAME}",
             "Effect": "Allow"
Next initialize the policy:
aws iam create-policy  \
     --policy-name fluent-bit-policy \
     --policy-document file://~/environment/logging/fluent-bit-policy.json
Create an IAM role for the service account:
eksctl create iamserviceaccount \
     --name fluent-bit \
     --namespace dcd \
     --cluster dcd-ap-southeast-2 \
     --attach-policy-arn "arn:aws:iam::${ACCOUNT_ID}:policy/fluent-bit-policy" \
     --approve \
Confirm that the service account with an Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the IAM role is annotated:
kubectl describe serviceaccount fluent-bit
Look for output similar to:
Name: fluent-bit
Namespace:  elastic
Labels: <none>
Annotations: arn:aws:iam::000000000000:role/eksctl-your-cluster-name-addon-iamserviceac-Role1-0A0A0A0A0A0A0
Image pull secrets: <none>
Mountable secrets:  fluent-bit-token-pgpss
Tokens:  fluent-bit-token-pgpss
Events:  <none>
Now define the Elasticsearch domain

This configuration will provision a public Elasticsearch cluster with Fine-Grained Access Control enabled and a built-in user database:

cat <<EOF> ~/environment/logging/elasticsearch_domain.json
    "DomainName": ${ES_DOMAIN_NAME},
    "ElasticsearchVersion": ${ES_VERSION},
    "ElasticsearchClusterConfig": {
         "InstanceType": "r5.large.elasticsearch",
         "InstanceCount": 1,
             "DedicatedMasterEnabled": false,
             "ZoneAwarenessEnabled": false,
             "WarmEnabled": false
    "EBSOptions": {
         "EBSEnabled": true,
         "VolumeType": "gp2",
         "VolumeSize": 100
    "AccessPolicies": "{\"Version\":\"2012-10-17\",\"Statement\":[{\"Effect\":\"Allow\",\"Principal\":{\"AWS\":\"*\"},\"Action\":\"es:ESHttp*\",\"Resource\":\"arn:aws:es:${AWS_REGION}:${ACCOUNT_ID}:domain/${ES_DOMAIN_NAME}/*\"}]}",
    "SnapshotOptions": {},
    "CognitoOptions": {
         "Enabled": false
    "EncryptionAtRestOptions": {
         "Enabled": true
    "NodeToNodeEncryptionOptions": {
         "Enabled": true
    "DomainEndpointOptions": {
         "EnforceHTTPS": true,
         "TLSSecurityPolicy": "Policy-Min-TLS-1-0-2019-07"
    "AdvancedSecurityOptions": {
         "Enabled": true,
         "InternalUserDatabaseEnabled": true,
         "MasterUserOptions": {
             "MasterUserName": ${ES_USER},
             "MasterUserPassword": ${ES_PASSWORD}
Initialize the Elasticsearch domain using the elasticsearch_domain.json

aws es create-elasticsearch-domain \
   --cli-input-json   file://~/environment/logging/elasticsearch_domain.json

It takes a while for Elasticsearch clusters to change to an active state. Check the AWS Console to see the status of the cluster, and continue to the next step when the cluster is ready.

At this point you need to map roles to users in order to set fine-grained access control, because without this mapping all the requests to the cluster will result in permission errors. You should add the Fluentbit ARN as a backend role to the all-access role, which uses the Elasticsearch APIs. To find the fluentbit ARN run the following command and export the value of ARN Role into the FLUENTBIT_ROLE environment variable:

eksctl get iamserviceaccount --cluster dcd-ap-southeast-2
The output of this command should look similar to this:
NAMESPACE    NAME                ROLE ARN
kube-system cluster-autoscaler   arn:aws:iam::887464544476:role/eksctl-dcd-ap-southeast-2-addon-iamserviceac-Role1-1RSRFV0BQVE3E
Take note of the ROLE ARN and export it as the environment variable FLUENTBIT_ROLE
export FLUENTBIT_ROLE=arn:aws:iam::887464544476:role/eksctl-dcd-ap-southeast-2-addon-iamserviceac-Role1-1RSRFV0BQVE3E
Retrieve the Elasticsearch endpoint and update the internal database:
export ES_ENDPOINT=$(aws es describe-elasticsearch-domain --domain-name ngh-search-domain --output text --query "DomainStatus.Endpoint")

   -X PATCH \
   https://${ES_ENDPOINT}/_opendistro/_security/api/rolesmapping/all_access?pretty \
   -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
     "op": "add", "path": "/backend_roles", "value": ["'${FLUENTBIT_ROLE}'"]
Finally, it is time to deploy the Fluentbit DaemonSet:
kubectl apply -f docs/docs/examples/logging/efk/managed_es/fluentbit.yaml
After a few minutes all pods should be up and in running status. you can open Kibana to visualise the logs. The endpoint for Kibana can be found in the Elasticsearch output tab in the AWS console, or you can run the following command:
echo "Kibana URL: https://${ES_ENDPOINT}/_plugin/kibana/" 
Kibana URL:

The user and password for Kibana are the same as the master user credential that is set in Elasticsearch in the provisioning stage. Open Kibana in a browser and after login, create an index pattern and see the report in the Discover page.