Skip to content
Operator to Manage Let's Encrypt certificates for OpenShift Clusters
Branch: master
Clone or download
openshift-merge-robot Merge pull request #37 from fahlmant/prometheus-metrics
Deploy needed objects for prometheus metrics when the operator comes up
Latest commit 67ad274 Jun 24, 2019

Let's Encrypt Certificate Management Operator

Project Status

Project status: Alpha

Not all planned features are completed. As this project is pre-1.0, we do not currently offer strong guarantees around our API stability. The API, spec, status and other user facing objects may change in a non-backward compatible way.


The Certman Operator is used to automate the management and issuance of TLS certificates from Let's Encrypt for OpenShift Dedicated clusters provisioned via

It will ensure certificates are valid and up to date, and attempt to renew certificates before expiry.

The Certman Operator watches ClusterDeployment resource which is managd by Hive. Hive is API driven OpenShift cluster provisioning and management. Once an OpenShift Dedicated cluster has been successfully installed by Hive, Certman Operator will create a CertificateRequest resource. Based on details in the CertificateRequest resource, Certman Operator will order a new certificate from Let's Encrypt.

When you delete a OpenShift Dedicated cluster (i.e. when a ClusterDeployment is deleted), Certman Operator will revoke all valid certificates issued for the cluster.

How the Operator Operates

  1. A new OpenShift Dedicated cluster is requested by user from
  2. Certman operator monitors the cluster installation progress. Once the cluster status indicates that install was successful, a CertificateRequest resource is created for that cluster.
  3. Certman operator will then request new certificates from Let’s Encrypt based on the domains configured for the cluster.
  4. Answer Let’s Encrypt “challenge” by adding entries in the cluster’s DNS zone with a TTL of 1 min so that entries can be updated in future and hopefully changes are propagated quickly.
  5. Wait for DNS changes to propagate. Verify DNS changes have propagated by using DNS over HTTPS service from Cloudflare. Retry a few times if changes haven’t propagated yet.
  6. Once DNS change propagation has been verified, answer the challenge so Let’s Encrypt can verify that you are in control of the domain’s DNS.
  7. Let’s Encrypt will issue certificates once challenge has been successfully completed.
  8. Certificates are then stored in a Secret on the management cluster. Hive is watching for Secret.
  9. Once the Secret has valid certificates for the cluster, Hive will copy the secrets over to the OpenShift Dedicated cluster using SyncSet.
  10. Certman operator will reconcile all CertificateRequest every 10 minutes by default. During this reconciliation loop, operator will check for the validity of the existing certificates. As the certificates get closer to 45 days, certificates will be renewed and the Secret will be updated. Renewing certificates early helps us avoid getting email notifications about certificate expiry from Let’s Encrypt.
  11. Updates to Secret on certificate renewal will trigger Hive controller’s reconciliation loop which will then copy the updated Secret to the OpenShift Dedicated cluster. OpenShift will detect that Secret has changed and will apply the new certificates to the cluster.
  12. When a OpenShift Dedicated cluster is decommissioned, all valid certificates are first revoked and then the Secret is deleted on the management cluster. Hive will then continue with deleting other cluster resources.


  • Certman Operator has dependency on Hive custom resources. It is therefore not suitable for certificate management on a cluster. We recommend using either openshift-acme or cert-manager. Certman Operator is ideal for use cases when large number of OpenShift clusters have to be managed centrally.
  • Certman Operator currently only supports DNS Challenge through AWS Route53 for. HTTP Challenge is not supported.
  • Certman Operator does not support creation of Let's Encrypt account at this time. You must already have Let's Encrypt account and keys that you can provide to the Certman Operator.
  • Certman Operator does NOT configure the TLS certificates in an OpenShift cluster. This is managed by Hive using SyncSet.


The Certman Operator acts on the following custom resource definitions (CRDs):

  • CertificateRequest, which provides the details needed to request a certificate from Let's Encrypt.

  • ClusterDeployment, which defines a desired OpenShift managed cluster. The Operator ensures at all times that the OpenShift managed cluster has valid certificates for control plane and pre-defined external routes.

Setup Certman Operator

For local development, you can use either minishift or minikube to develop and run the operator. You will also need to install the operator-sdk.

Certman Operator Configuration

A ConfigMap is used to store certman operator configuration. At the moment, there are 2 items that can be configured using ConfigMap.

  1. lets_encrypt_environment - If set to staging, the certman operator will use Let's Encrypt staging environment. Set the value to production to point to Let's Encrypt production endpoint.
  2. default_notification_email_address - Email address to which Let's Encrypt certificate expiry notifications should be sent.
oc create configmap certman-operator \
    --from-literal=lets_encrypt_environment=staging \

Certman Operator Secrets

Secret is used to store Let's Encrypt account url and keys. A Secret with name lets-encrypt-account-staging will be used for Let's Encrypt staging environment and Secret with name lets-encrypt-account-production will be used for Let's Encrypt production environment.

 oc create secret generic lets-encrypt-account-production \
    --from-file=private-key=prod-private-key.pem \

oc create secret generic lets-encrypt-account-staging \
    --from-file=private-key=stg-private-key.pem \

Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs)

Create Hive CRDs

git clone
oc create -f hive/config/crds

Create Certman Operator CRDs

oc create -f

Run Operator From Source

operator-sdk up local

Build Operator Image

docker login

operator-sdk build

docker push

Setup & Deploy Operator On OpenShift/Kubernetes Cluster

Create & Use OpenShift Project

oc new-project certman-operator
oc project certman-operator

Setup Service Account

oc create -f deploy/service_account.yaml

Setup RBAC

oc create -f deploy/role.yaml
oc create -f deploy/role_binding.yaml

Deploy the Operator

oc create -f deploy/operator.yaml


Certman Operator is licensed under Apache 2.0 license. See the LICENSE file for details.

You can’t perform that action at this time.