Terraform, Google Cloud, and Kubernetes working together

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Here is the situation: I want a secret (let’s say a database password or any Kubernetes resource) stored inside a Kubernetes secret. The infrastructure is controlled by Terraform. So, how do I go about to keep those two things in sync?

Well, recently I found out a neat pattern! You can connect Terraform with both GCP infrastructure, and Kubernetes at the same time, and you can keep them in sync! How do you say? Well, let me show you!

Let’s look at the full-blown example and then we will break the interesting bits down:

provider "google" {

data "google_client_config" "default" {

provider "kubernetes" {
  load_config_file = false
  host             = "https://${google_container_cluster.primary.endpoint}"
  token            = data.google_client_config.default.access_token
  cluster_ca_certificate = base64decode(

resource "kubernetes_namespace" "test" {
  metadata {
    name = "test"

  depends_on = [google_container_node_pool.primary]

Ok, ok. This isn’t a full-blown example, but these are the most important pieces. The full example can be found in my example repository here. Here I am just highlighting the pieces you probably already want and need.

The first big piece you will need is the google_client_config. This piece is the one that led me down this road in the first place. This gives information back to Terraform on how to access the Google API and how to use other pieces. The most important piece here is the access token. This is a short-lived token that will be used to communicate with the cluster with whatever privilege the gcloud command (or Terraform provider context) has.

As you may notice, the google_container_cluster gives us the other pieces. It gives us the host, along with the CA certificate of the host. This then gives you full access to the Kubernetes instance and allows you to start managing the instance with Kubernetes!

Now the next bit that may trip people up is the depends_on. Because the provider doesn’t naturally give you dependencies. Terraform can’t figure out the dependency graph on its own, so it needs some help. We specifically target the node pool because we want actual node workers in kubernetes for certain things to work (i.e. namespace is a good example that needs a worker node to work fully). If you don’t have this, destroying and or other massive changes might leave you in a stuck state.

Now that we’ve tied things together using a basic namespace. Let’s see how we would tie a secret. In our case, this will be the password to the database user. This would look like this:

resource "random_password" "user" {
  length = 16

resource "google_sql_user" "users" {
  name     = "user"
  instance = google_sql_database_instance.instance.name
  password = random_password.user.result

resource "kubernetes_secret" "user" {
  metadata {
    name      = "user-password"
    namespace = kubernetes_namespace.test.metadata[0].name

  data = {
    password = random_password.user.result

We use Terraform to generate the password, the link the two other resources together. In this case, we create a SQL user and the secret to store that same password for a pod to use to connect to the database.

The trickiest part of all of this is to ensure that the dependency graph that Terraform generates is accurate. So using depends_on and other things may need to be used more often.