Armory Scale Agent for Spinnaker and Kubernetes

The Armory Agent is a lightweight, scalable service that monitors your Kubernetes infrastructure and streams changes back to Spinnaker’s Clouddriver service.


What is the Armory Agent?

The Armory Scale Agent for Spinnaker and Kubernetes consists of a lightweight Agent service that you deploy on Kubernetes and a plugin that you install into Clouddriver.

The Armory Agent is compatible with Armory Enterprise and open source Spinnaker.

Advantages of using the Armory Agent for Kubernetes

  • Scalability

    • Caching and deployment scales to thousands of Kubernetes clusters for your largest applications.
    • By leveraging the Kubernetes watch mechanism, the Agent detects changes to Kubernetes and streams them in real time over a single TCP connection per cluster to SpinnakerTM.
    • The Agent optimizes how infrastructure information is cached, making Force Cache Refresh almost instantaneous. This means optimal performance for your end users and your pipeline executions.
  • Security

    • Keep your Kubernetes API servers private from Spinnaker.
    • Only the information Armory Enterprise needs leaves the cluster.
    • Decentralize your account management. Using Kubernetes Service Accounts, teams control what Spinnaker can do. Add or remove accounts in real time. and then use them without restarting Spinnaker.
    • Use Kubernetes Service Accounts or store your kubeconfig files in one of the supported secret engines, or provision them via the method of your choice as Kubernetes secrets.
  • Usability

    • Use the Agent alongside Armory Enterprise and benefit from performance improvements.
    • Use the Agent in a target cluster and get Kubernetes accounts automatically registered.
    • Use YAML, a HELM chart, or a Kustomize template to inject the Agent into newly provisioned Kubernetes clusters, and immediately make those clusters software deployment targets.
    • Use the Agent with little operational overhead or changes in the way you currently manage Armory Enterprise.

Check out the installation guide for how to deploy the Agent components in Armory Enterprise and in your Kubernetes infrastructure.

Deployment modes

Agent mode

In this mode, the Agent service acts as a piece of infrastructure. It authenticates using a service account token. You use RBAC service account permissions to configure what the Agent service is authorized to do.

If the Clouddriver plugin is unable to communicate with the Agent service, the plugin attempts to reconnect during a defined grace period. If the plugin still can’t communicate with the Agent service after the grace period has expired, the cluster associated with the Agent service is removed from Armory Enterprise.

Keep the following pros and cons in mind when deciding if Agent mode fits your use case:


  • Agent mode is scalable because each agent only manages one Kubernetes account.
  • Initial setup is easier because there’s no need to create kubeconfig files.
  • Target clusters can remain private or in separate VPCs from the Armory Enterprise (Spinnaker) cluster because agents initiate the connection to Armory Enterprise (Spinnaker).


  • It is difficult to get agent logs, upgrade Agent, or check configurations because agents (often) run in third-party clusters that the DevOps team operating Armory Enterprise (Spinnaker) doesn’t have access.
  • There is no authentication/authorization, so any team can start an Agent and register itself with Armory Enterprise (Spinnaker). mTLS encryption can be used so that only agents with the right certificate can register. For information about how to configure mTLS, see Configure Mutual TLS Authentication.
  • You need to expose gRPC port for Clouddriver through an external load balancer capable of handling HTTP/2 for gRPC communication.

Agent mode

Infrastructure mode

In infrastructure mode, multiple Agent service deployments handle different groups of Kubernetes clusters. Each service deployment is configured separately.

Keep the following pros and cons in mind when deciding if Infrastructure mode fits your use case:


  • Agent can be managed centrally, so it is easy to get logs or configs and upgrade.


  • You need to create kubeconfig file for each account.
  • The API servers of the target clusters need to be accessible from the Agent cluster.
  • You need to expose gRPC port for Clouddriver through an external load balancer capable of handling HTTP/2 for gRPC communication.

Infra mode

Account name must still be unique across all your infrastructure. Clouddriver will reject new accounts with a name that matches a different cluster.

Spinnaker service mode

In this mode, the Agent is installed as a new Spinnaker service (spin-armory-agent) and can be configured like other services.

Spinnaker service mode

If you provision clusters automatically, the Agent service can dynamically reload accounts when armory-agent.yaml changes. You could, for example, configure accounts in a ConfigMap mounting to /opt/armory/config/armory-agent-local.yaml. The Agent service reflects ConfigMap changes within seconds after etcd sync.


  • You do not have to configure external Network/Application Load Balancers to expose the Clouddriver gRPC port.
  • Agent can be managed centrally, so it is easy to get logs or configs and upgrade.


  • You need to create kubeconfig file for each account.
  • The API servers of the target clusters need to be accessible from the Armory Enterprise (Spinnaker) cluster.

Communication with Clouddriver

The Agent service does outbound calls only, except for a local health check, over a single gPRC connection to the Clouddriver plugin. The connection can be over TLS or mTLS. You can terminate TLS:

  1. On Clouddriver: in the case of running the Agent in Spinnaker Service mode or if declaring spin-clouddriver-grpc as a network load balancer.
  2. On a gRPC proxy that directs request to the spin-clouddriver-grpc service.

The Clouddriver plugin uses the bidirectional communication channel to receive changes from Kubernetes accounts as well as send operations to the Agent service.

Information sent by the Agent service

The Agent service sends the following information about the cluster it is watching to the Clouddriver plugin:

  • Account properties as configured in kubernetes.accounts[].
  • Kubernetes API server host, certificate fingerprint, version.
  • All the Kubernetes objects it is configured to watch and has permissions to access. You can ignore certain Kubernetes kinds (kubernetes.accounts[].omitKinds) or configure specific kinds to watch (kubernetes.accounts[].kinds).

The Agent service always scrubs data from Secret in memory before it is sent and even before that data makes it onto the Agent’s memory heap.


Since the Agent service does outbound calls only, you can have Agent services running on-premises or in public clouds such as AWS, GCP, Azure, Oracle, or Alibaba.

What Armory Enterprise can do in the target cluster is limited by what it is running as:

  • a serviceAccount in Agent mode
  • a kubeconfig setup for infrastructure or Spinnaker service mode

Communications are secured with TLS and optionally mTLS.

Furthermore, in Agent mode, Armory Enterprise never gets credentials, and account registration is dynamic.


Each Agent can scale to hundreds of Kubernetes clusters. The more types of Kubernetes objects the Agent has to watch, the more memory it uses. Memory usage is bursty. You can control burst with budget. See Agent options) for configuration information.

Scaling the Agent can mean:

  • Scaling the Kubernetes Deployment the Agent service is part of.
  • Sharding Kubernetes clusters into groups that can in turn be scaled as described in Infrastructure mode above.

You can also mix deployment strategies if you have complex Kubernetes infrastructure and permissions:

  • Run as a Spinnaker service
  • Run in target clusters
  • Run next to traditional Spinnaker Kubernetes accounts

Supported versions

Armory Enterprise (Spinnaker) Version Armory Agent Plugin Version Armory Agent Version
2.25.x (1.25.x) 0.8.62 1.0.22
2.26.x (1.26.x) 0.9.54 1.0.22
2.27.x (1.27.x) 0.10.38 1.0.22

Your Clouddriver service must use a MySQL-compatible database. See the Configure Clouddriver to use a SQL Database guide for instructions.

Database compatibility:

MySQL PostgreSQL
5.7; AWS Aurora 10+

You can find a full list of previous releases in the artifactory.

What’s next

Install the Armory Agent for Kubernetes

Last modified May 31, 2022: (7f8ab019)