Ajeet Raina Docker Captain, ARM Innovator & Docker Bangalore Community Leader.

Deploy your AWS EKS cluster with Terraform in 5 Minutes

4 min read

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (a.k.a Amazon EKS) is a fully managed service that helps make it easier to run Kubernetes on AWS. Through EKS, organisations can run Kubernetes without installing and operating a Kubernetes control plane or worker nodes. Simply put, EKS is a managed containers-as-a-service (CaaS) that drastically simplifies Kubernetes deployment on AWS.

Why EKS the best place to run Kubernetes?

EKS is the best place to run Kubernetes for several reasons. First, you can choose to run your EKS clusters using AWS Fargate, which is serverless compute for containers. Fargate removes the need to provision and manage servers, lets you specify and pay for resources per application, and improves security through application isolation by design. Second, EKS is deeply integrated with services such as Amazon CloudWatch, Auto Scaling Groups, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), providing you a seamless experience to monitor, scale, and load-balance your applications. Third, EKS integrates with AWS App Mesh and provides a Kubernetes native experience to consume service mesh features and bring rich observability, traffic controls and security features to applications. Additionally, EKS provides a scalable and highly-available control plane that runs across multiple availability zones to eliminate a single point of failure.

Top 4 Reasons why you should consider EKS?

  • EKS runs the Kubernetes management infrastructure across multiple AWS Availability Zones, automatically detects and replaces unhealthy control plane nodes, and provides on-demand, zero downtime upgrades and patching.
  • EKS supports AWS Fargate to provide serverless compute for containers. Fargate removes the need to provision and manage servers, lets you specify and pay for resources per application, and improves security through application isolation by design.
  • EKS automatically applies the latest security patches to your cluster control plane. AWS also works closely with the community to ensure critical security issues are addressed before new releases and patches are deployed to existing clusters.
  • With Amazon EKS, you can take advantage of all the performance, scale, reliability, and availability of the AWS platform, as well as integrations with AWS networking and security services, such as Application Load Balancers for load distribution, Identity Access Manager (IAM) for role based access control, and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for pod networking.

The purpose of this tutorial is to create an EKS cluster with Terraform.


  • MacOS
  • Get an AWS free trial account
  • Install Terraform v0.12.26
brew install terraform

If you’re running Terraform 0.11, I would suggest to upgrade it to 0.12 ASAP.

  • Install AWSCLI 2.0.17
brew install awscli
  • Install AWS IAM Authenticator
brew install aws-iam-authenticator
  • Install WGET
brew install wget
  • Install Kubectl
brew install kubernetes-cli

Setting up AWS IAM users for Terraform

The first thing to set up is your Terraform. We will create an AWS IAM users for Terraform.

In your AWS console, go to the IAM section and create a user named “SudoAccess”. Then add your user to a group named “SudoAccessGroup”. Attaches to this group the following rights:

  • AdministratorAccess
  • AmazonEKSClusterPolicy

After these steps, AWS will provide you a Secret Access Key and Access Key ID. Save them preciously because this will be the only time AWS gives it to you.

In your own console, create a ~/.aws/credentials file and put your credentials in it:


Creating Config file

cat config

Cloning the Repository

git clone https://github.com/hashicorp/learn-terraform-provision-eks-cluster

You can explore this repository by changing directories or navigating in your UI.

$ cd learn-terraform-provision-eks-cluster

In here, you will find six files used to provision a VPC, security groups and an EKS cluster. The final product should be similar to this:

  • vpc.tf provisions a VPC, subnets and availability zones using the AWS VPC Module. A new VPC is created for this guide so it doesn’t impact your existing cloud environment and resources.
  • security-groups.tf provisions the security groups used by the EKS cluster.
  • eks-cluster.tf provisions all the resources (AutoScaling Groups, etc…) required to set up an EKS cluster in the private subnets and bastion servers to access the cluster using the AWS EKS Module.
  • On line 14, the AutoScaling group configuration contains three nodes.
  • outputs.tf defines the output configuration.
  • versions.tf sets the Terraform version to at least 0.12. It also sets versions for the providers used in this sample.

Initialize Terraform workspace

[Captains-Bay]? >  terraform init
Initializing modules...
Downloading terraform-aws-modules/eks/aws 12.0.0 for eks...
- eks in .terraform/modules/eks/terraform-aws-eks-12.0.0
- eks.node_groups in .terraform/modules/eks/terraform-aws-eks-12.0.0/modules/node_groups
Downloading terraform-aws-modules/vpc/aws 2.6.0 for vpc...
- vpc in .terraform/modules/vpc/terraform-aws-vpc-2.6.0

Initializing the backend...

Initializing provider plugins...
- Checking for available provider plugins...
- Downloading plugin for provider "random" (hashicorp/random) 2.2.1...
- Downloading plugin for provider "local" (hashicorp/local) 1.4.0...
- Downloading plugin for provider "null" (hashicorp/null) 2.1.2...
- Downloading plugin for provider "kubernetes" (hashicorp/kubernetes) 1.11.3...
- Downloading plugin for provider "template" (hashicorp/template) 2.1.2...
- Downloading plugin for provider "aws" (hashicorp/aws) 2.64.0...

Terraform has been successfully initialized!

You may now begin working with Terraform. Try running "terraform plan" to see
any changes that are required for your infrastructure. All Terraform commands
should now work.

If you ever set or change modules or backend configuration for Terraform,
rerun this command to reinitialize your working directory. If you forget, other
commands will detect it and remind you to do so if necessary.
[Captains-Bay]? >
Apply complete! Resources: 51 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


cluster_endpoint = https://83AEAE7D9A99A68DFA4162E18F4AD470.gr7.us-east-2.eks.amazonaws.com
cluster_name = training-eks-9Vir2IUu
cluster_security_group_id = sg-000e8af737c088047
kubectl_config = apiVersion: v1
preferences: {}
kind: Config

- cluster:
    server: https://83AEAE7D9A99A68DFA4162E18F4AD470.gr7.us-east-2.eks.amazonaws.com
  name: eks_training-eks-9Vir2IUu

- context:
    cluster: eks_training-eks-9Vir2IUu
    user: eks_training-eks-9Vir2IUu
  name: eks_training-eks-9Vir2IUu

current-context: eks_training-eks-9Vir2IUu

- name: eks_training-eks-9Vir2IUu
      apiVersion: client.authentication.k8s.io/v1alpha1
      command: aws-iam-authenticator
        - "token"
        - "-i"
        - "training-eks-9Vir2IUu"
region = us-east-2

Configure kubectl

Now that you’ve provisioned your EKS cluster, you need to configure kubectl. Customize the following command with your cluster name and region, the values from Terraform’s output. It will get the access credentials for your cluster and automatically configure kubectl.

aws eks --region us-east-2 update-kubeconfig --name training-eks-9Vir2IUu
Added new context arn:aws:eks:us-east-2:125346028423:cluster/training-eks-9Vir2IUu to /Users/ajeetraina/.kube/


If you are facing the below error message while running terraform init:

[Captains-Bay]? >  terraform validate

Error: Error parsing /Users/ajeetraina/.aws/learn-terraform-provision-eks-cluster/eks-cluster.tf: At 3:18: Unknown token: 3:18 IDENT local.cluster_name

Then to fix it , you need to update your Terraform version by running

brew upgrade terraform

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Ajeet Raina Docker Captain, ARM Innovator & Docker Bangalore Community Leader.

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