PostgreSQL Deployment Model

This page will help you succeed in connecting your application to a primary relational database PostgreSQL which meets your security and compliance requirements.

Provision a New PostgreSQL Cluster

Ask your service-specific administrator to install a PostgreSQL cluster inside your Compliant Kubernetes environment. The service-specific administrator will ensure the PostgreSQL cluster complies with your security requirements, including:

  • Business continuity: We recommend a highly available setup with at minimum a primary instance and a replica. Ideally, the PostgreSQL cluster should be configured with a primary and two replicas.
  • Disaster recovery: Your service-specific administrator will configure the PostgreSQL cluster with physical backups, logical backups and Point-in-Time Recovery (PITR), as required to meet your Recovery Point Objectives.
  • Capacity management: Your service-specific administrator will ensure PostgreSQL runs on dedicated (i.e., tainted) Kubernetes Nodes, as required to get the best performance.
  • Incident management: Your administrator will set up the necessary Probes, dashboards and alerts, to discover issues and resolve them, before they become a problem.
  • Access control: Your administrator will set up a "root-like" PostgreSQL account, which will allow you to create databases and PostgreSQL users, but not tamper will logging, business continuity or disaster recovery.

Compliant Kubernetes recommends the Zalando PostgreSQL operator.

Install Prerequisites

Before continuing, make sure you have access to the Kubernetes API, as describe here.

Make sure to install the PostgreSQL client on your workstation. On Ubuntu, this can be achieved as follows:

sudo apt-get install postgresql-client

Getting Access

Your administrator will set up a Secret inside Compliant Kubernetes, which contains all information you need to access your PostgreSQL cluster. The Secret has the following shape:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
  name: $SECRET
  namespace: $NAMESPACE
  # PGHOST represents a cluster-scoped DNS name or IP, which only makes sense inside the Kubernetes cluster.
  # E.g., postgresql1.postgres-system.svc.cluster.local

  # These fields map to the environment variables consumed by psql.
  # Ref

  # This is the Kubernetes Service to which you need to 'kubectl port-forward' in order to get access to the PostgreSQL cluster from outside the Kubernetes cluster.
  # E.g., svc/postgresql1
  # Ref


The Secret is very precious! Prefer not to persist any information extracted from it, as shown below.

To extract this information, proceed as follows:

export SECRET=            # Get this from your administrator
export NAMESPACE=         # Get this from your administrator

export PGHOST=$(kubectl -n $NAMESPACE get secret $SECRET -o 'jsonpath={.data.PGHOST}' | base64 --decode)
export PGUSER=$(kubectl -n $NAMESPACE get secret $SECRET -o 'jsonpath={.data.PGUSER}' | base64 --decode)
export PGPASSWORD=$(kubectl -n $NAMESPACE get secret $SECRET -o 'jsonpath={.data.PGPASSWORD}' | base64 --decode)
export PGSSLMODE=$(kubectl -n $NAMESPACE get secret $SECRET -o 'jsonpath={.data.PGSSLMODE}' | base64 --decode)
export USER_ACCESS=$(kubectl -n $NAMESPACE get secret $SECRET -o 'jsonpath={.data.USER_ACCESS}' | base64 --decode)


Do not configure your application with the PostgreSQL admin username and password. Since the application will get too much permission, this will likely violate your access control policy.

Create an Application User

First, in one console, fetch the information from the access Secret as described above and port forward into the PostgreSQL master.

kubectl -n $NAMESPACE port-forward $USER_ACCESS 5432


Since humans are bad at generating random passwords, we recommend using pwgen.

Second, in another console, fetch the information from the access Secret again and run the PostgreSQL client to create the application database and user:

export APP_DATABASE=myapp
export APP_USERNAME=myapp
export APP_PASSWORD=$(pwgen 32)

cat <<EOF | psql -d postgres -h -U $PGUSER \
create database :APP_DATABASE;
create user :APP_USERNAME with encrypted password ':APP_PASSWORD';
grant all privileges on database :APP_DATABASE to :APP_USERNAME;

Continue with the second console in the next section to create a Secret with this information.

Create an Application Secret

First, check that you are on the right Compliant Kubernetes cluster, in the right application namespace:

kubectl get nodes
kubectl config view --minify --output 'jsonpath={..namespace}'; echo

Now, create a Kubernetes Secret in your application namespace to store the PostgreSQL application username and password. For consistency, prefer sticking to naming connection parameters as the environment variables consumed by psql.

cat <<EOF | kubectl apply -f -
apiVersion: v1
kind: Secret
    name: app-postgresql-secret
type: Opaque
    PGPORT: '5432'


Although most client libraries follow the libpq definition of these environment variables, some do not, and this will require changes to the application Secret.

Notably node-postgres does not currently do so for PGSSLMODE. When this variable is set to require, it will do a full verification instead, requiring access to the PostgreSQL certificates to allow a connection. To get the intended mode for require set the variable to no-verify instead.

Expose PostgreSQL credentials to Your Application

To expose the PostgreSQL cluster credentials to your application, follow one of the following upstream documentation:

Follow the Go-Live Checklist

You should be all set. Before going into production, don't forget to go through the go-live checklist.

CK8S PostgreSQL Release Notes

Check out the release notes for the PostgreSQL cluster that runs in Compliant Kubernetes environments!

Further Reading