Monitoring Kubernetes cert-manager Certificates with BotKube

Monitoring Kubernetes cert-manager Certificates with BotKube

Bhavin Gandhi
Bhavin Gandhi

The monitoring and alerting stack is a crucial part of the SRE practices. That’s where BotKube helps you monitor your Kubernetes cluster and send notifications to your messaging platform or any other configured sink. In this blog post, we will be configuring BotKube to watch the Kubernetes cert-manager certificates CustomResources.

What is BotKube?

BotKube is a messaging tool for monitoring and debugging Kubernetes clusters. BotKube can be integrated with multiple messaging platforms like - Slack, Mattermost, or Microsoft Teams to help you monitor your Kubernetes cluster(s), debug critical deployments, and gives recommendations for standard practices by running checks on the Kubernetes resources.

BotKube website

What is cert-manager?

cert-manager helps you create and manage X.509 certificates in Kubernetes.

cert-manager builds on top of Kubernetes, introducing certificate authorities and certificates as first-class resource types in the Kubernetes API. This makes it possible to provide ‘certificates as a service’ to developers working within your Kubernetes cluster.

cert-manager website

To achieve the above goal, cert-manager uses Kubernetes CustomResources.

How BotKube will help us monitor Kubernetes cert-manager certificates?

BotKube can monitor and notify us about the creation, deletion, and modification of Kubernetes resources. The v0.11+ of BotKube added support for the CustomResources as well. We will be using this feature to monitor the creation of new certificates and the rotation.

cert-manager also creates Kubernetes Kind Events related to the CustomResources. At the time of writing this post, BotKube can notify us about the Events of the type of Warning. Some examples include failure in renewing the certificates, issues in getting the CA TLS certificate for signing, and many more. Take a look at this GitHub repository search results to get a better idea about it.


This post assumes that you already have a Kubernetes cluster with cert-manager and BotKube running on it. If you don’t have these things running, follow this section to get a minimal setup running on top of minikube. We will be configuring BotKube with Slack for this tutorial. You can use any other sink which supports the feature “K8s Event Push”.

Creating a Kubernetes cluster with minikube

  1. Install minikube on your machine by following the instructions given here.
  2. To start the minikube cluster, run the following command.

    $ minikube start
    * minikube v1.19.0 on Fedora 34
      - KUBECONFIG=/home/bhavin/.kube/config
    * Using the kvm2 driver based on existing profile
    # …
    * Done! kubectl is now configured to use "minikube" cluster and "default" namespace by default

Install and setup BotKube

  1. Install Helm on your machine by following the instructions given here.
  2. To add the infracloudio Helm chart repository, run the following command.

    $ helm repo add infracloudio
    "infracloudio" has been added to your repositories
    $ helm repo update
    ...Successfully got an update from the "infracloudio" chart repository
    Update Complete. ⎈Happy Helming!⎈
  3. Install the BotKube Slack app in your workspace by following the instructions given in this section of the documentation. With this step, you will have a Slack token with you.
  4. To create the Helm values file for BotKube, run the following command.

    cat <<EOF > botkube-values.yaml
        enabled: true
        channel: "test"
        token: "<TOKEN_FROM_3>"
        clustername: "bhavin-minikube"
          enabled: true
  5. To create a namespace and install BotKube, run the following command.

    $ helm install botkube infracloudio/botkube \
        --namespace monitoring --create-namespace \
        -f botkube-values.yaml
  6. Verify that the pods are running.

    $ kubectl get pods --namespace monitoring
    NAME                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
    botkube-684874499f-22mlz   1/1     Running   0          1m

If any of the above instructions don’t work, please take a look at the official documentation page for an updated version of these instructions.

Install cert-manager

  1. To add jetstack Helm repository, run the following command.

    $ helm repo add jetstack
    $ helm repo update
  2. To install cert-manager in cert-manager namespace, execute the following command.

    $ helm install cert-manager jetstack/cert-manager \
        --namespace cert-manager --create-namespace \
        --set installCRDs=true
  3. Verify that the pods are running.

    $ kubectl get pods --namespace cert-manager
    NAME                                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
    cert-manager-7998c69865-dbfn4              1/1     Running   0          8m17s
    cert-manager-cainjector-7b744d56fb-drqgh   1/1     Running   0          8m16s
    cert-manager-webhook-7d6d4c78bc-d8t22      1/1     Running   0          8m17s

If any of the above instructions don’t work, please take a look at the official documentation page for an updated version of these instructions.

Let’s monitor the Certificates

Now that we have the basic understanding of cert-manager and BotKube, let’s configure BotKube to monitor the Certificates CustomResource of cert-manager.

Configuring BotKube

Add the following snippet under config in the botkube-values.yaml file.

# botkube-values.yaml
# config:
  - name:
      - all
    - all
      includeDiff: true
      - status.renewalTime

This configures BotKube to start monitoring the GVR (Group Version Resource) resource. Monitors all the operations like create, update, delete, error from all the namespaces.

We are also monitoring the status.renewalTime field of the Certificate object. This will create a notification when a certificate is renewed.

To update BotKube deployment, run the following Helm command.

helm upgrade botkube infracloudio/botkube -n monitoring -f botkube-values.yaml

You can read more about this configuration in the resource_config.yaml syntax documentation section.

Create a self-signed issuer and certificate

To test our changes, we will create a self-signed issuer and a certificate.

cat <<EOF > test-resources.yaml
apiVersion: v1
kind: Namespace
  name: cert-manager-test
kind: Issuer
  name: test-selfsigned
  namespace: cert-manager-test
  selfSigned: {}
kind: Certificate
  name: example-com
  namespace: cert-manager-test
  secretName: example-com-tls
    name: test-selfsigned
  duration: 1h
  renewBefore: 50m

Apply the manifest:

kubectl apply -f test-resources.yaml
# output
namespace/cert-manager-test created created created

The above command creates a namespace cert-manager-test along with a self-signed issuer. At the end, we are creating a Certificate that has a validity of 1 hour, and it gets renewed 50 minutes before its expiry. In other words, it will get renewed every 10 minutes.

If any of the above instructions don’t work, please take a look at the official documentation page for an updated version of these instructions.

This is how it will look on the Slack channel.

BotKube notifications for creation and update of Certificate resource

Let’s delete the Certificate resource and see what happens.

$ kubectl delete certificate example-com -n cert-manager-test "example-com" deleted

BotKube notifications for deletion of Certificate resource


In this blog post, we took a look at the tools BotKube, cert-manager. We did the basic setup, configured BotKube to watch the Certificate resource of cert-manager. Similarly, we can configure BotKube to watch any of the CustomResources using this approach.

We hope you found this post informative and engaging. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter and start a conversation. New to BotKube? Join the BotKube community Slack. For regular cloud native updates from InfraCloud, follow us on LinkedIn.

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