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Version: 2.13

Orchestrating Constellation clusters

You can use the CLI to create a cluster on the supported cloud platforms. The CLI provisions the resources in your cloud environment and initiates the initialization of your cluster. It uses a set of parameters and an optional configuration file to manage your cluster installation. The CLI is also used for updating your cluster.


Each Constellation cluster has an associated workspace. The workspace is where data such as the Constellation state and config files are stored. Each workspace is associated with a single cluster and configuration. The CLI stores state in the local filesystem making the current directory the active workspace. Multiple clusters require multiple workspaces, hence, multiple directories. Note that every operation on a cluster always has to be performed from the directory associated with its workspace.

Cluster creation process

To allow for fine-grained configuration of your cluster and cloud environment, Constellation supports an extensive configuration file with strong defaults. Generating the configuration file is typically the first thing you do in the workspace.

Altogether, the following files are generated during the creation of a Constellation cluster and stored in the current workspace:

  • a configuration file
  • a state file
  • a Base64-encoded master secret
  • Terraform artifacts, stored in subdirectories
  • a Kubernetes kubeconfig file.

After the initialization of your cluster, the CLI will provide you with a Kubernetes kubeconfig file. This file grants you access to your Kubernetes cluster and configures the kubectl tool. In addition, the cluster's identifier is returned and stored in the state file.

Creation process details

  1. The CLI create command creates the confidential VM (CVM) resources in your cloud environment and configures the network
  2. Each CVM boots the Constellation node image and measures every component in the boot chain
  3. The first microservice launched in each node is the Bootstrapper
  4. The Bootstrapper waits until it either receives an initialization request or discovers an initialized cluster
  5. The CLI apply command connects to the Bootstrapper of a selected node, sends the configuration, and initiates the initialization of the cluster
  6. The Bootstrapper of that node initializes the Kubernetes cluster and deploys the other Constellation microservices including the JoinService
  7. Subsequently, the Bootstrappers of the other nodes discover the initialized cluster and send join requests to the JoinService
  8. As part of the join request each node includes an attestation statement of its boot measurements as authentication
  9. The JoinService verifies the attestation statements and joins the nodes to the Kubernetes cluster
  10. This process is repeated for every node joining the cluster later (e.g., through autoscaling)

Post-installation configuration

Post-installation the CLI provides a configuration for accessing the cluster using the Kubernetes API. The kubeconfig file provides the credentials and configuration for connecting and authenticating to the API server. Once configured, orchestrate the Kubernetes cluster via kubectl.

After the initialization, the CLI will present you with a couple of tokens:

  • The master secret (stored in the constellation-mastersecret.json file by default)
  • The clusterID of your cluster in Base64 encoding

You can read more about these values and their meaning in the guide on cluster identity.

The master secret must be kept secret and can be used to recover your cluster. Instead of managing this secret manually, you can use your key management solution of choice with Constellation.

The clusterID uniquely identifies a cluster and can be used to verify your cluster.


Constellation images and microservices may need to be upgraded to new versions during the lifetime of a cluster. Constellation implements a rolling update mechanism ensuring no downtime of the control or data plane. You can upgrade a Constellation cluster with a single operation by using the CLI. For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, refer to Upgrade your cluster.

Attestation of upgrades

With every new image, corresponding measurements are released. During an update procedure, the CLI provides new measurements to the JoinService securely. New measurements for an updated image are automatically pulled and verified by the CLI following the supply chain security concept of Constellation. The attestation section describes in detail how these measurements are then used by the JoinService for the attestation of nodes.