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Use cloudflared to expose a Kubernetes app to the Internet

You can use Cloudflare Tunnel to connect applications and servers to Cloudflare's network. Tunnel relies on a piece of software, cloudflared, to create those connections.

The same Tunnel can be run from multiple instances of cloudflared, giving you the ability to run many cloudflared replicas to scale your system when incoming traffic changes.

In this tutorial, we will walk through running an application as a Kubernetes Service, and then running cloudflared in a separate Deployment.

This architecture allows cloudflared instances to proxy Internet traffic into whichever Kubernetes Service it was configured to.

🗺️ This tutorial covers how to:

  • Deploy cloudflared in a replica model
  • Proxy traffic into a Kubernetes service with Tunnel

⏲️ Time to complete: 45 minutes

Install cloudflared

Start by downloading and installing the lightweight Cloudflare Tunnel daemon, cloudflared. Reference our installation guide for instructions on how to install cloudflared on your operating system.

Login to Cloudflare

Once installed, you can use the tunnel login command in cloudflared to obtain a certificate.

$ cloudflared tunnel login

Create your Tunnel

In the example below, simply change <example-tunnel> to the name you wish to assign to your Tunnel.

$ cloudflared tunnel create example-tunnel
Tunnel credentials written to /Users/cf000197/.cloudflared/ef824aef-7557-4b41-a398-4684585177ad.json. cloudflared chose this file based on where your origin certificate was found. Keep this file secret. To revoke these credentials, delete the tunnel.
Created tunnel example-tunnel with id ef824aef-7557-4b41-a398-4684585177ad

Upload the Tunnel credentials file to Kubernetes

Next, you will upload the generated Tunnel credential file as a secret to your Kubernetes cluster. You will also need to provide the filepath that the Tunnel credentials file was created under. You can find that path in the output of cloudflared tunnel create <example-tunnel> above.

$ kubectl create secret generic tunnel-credentials \
--from-file=credentials.json=/Users/cf000197/.cloudflared/ef824aef-7557-4b41-a398-4684585177ad.json

Associate your Tunnel with a DNS record

  1. Go to the Cloudflare dashboard.
  2. Navigate to the DNS tab.
  3. Now create a CNAME targeting .cfargotunnel.com. In this example, the tunnel ID is ef824aef-7557-4b41-a398-4684585177ad, so create a CNAME record specifically targeting ef824aef-7557-4b41-a398-4684585177ad.cfargotunnel.com.

You can also create multiple CNAME records targeting the same Tunnel, if desired.

Create CNAME

Alternatively, you can perform this step from the command line by running cloudflared tunnel route dns <tunnel> <hostname>. For example, cloudflared tunnel route dns example-tunnel tunnel.example.com. You can use a similar method to route traffic to cloudflared from a Cloudflare Load Balancer, see docs for details.

Deploy cloudflared

Now, we'll deploy cloudflared by applying its manifest. This will start a Deployment for running cloudflared and a ConfigMap with cloudflared's config. When Cloudflare receives traffic for the DNS or Load Balancing hostname you configured in the previous step, it will send that traffic to the cloudflared instances running in this deployment. Then, those cloudflared instances will proxy the request to your application's Service.

$ kubectl apply -f cloudflared.yaml
deployment.apps/cloudflared created
configmap/cloudflared configured

Examine status of your pod

$ kubectl get pods
NAME READY STATUS RESTARTS AGE
cloudflared-57746f77fd-frc99 1/1 Running 0 12m
cloudflared-57746f77fd-xht8n 1/1 Running 0 12m
httpbin-deployment-67f749774f-42tqj 1/1 Running 0 20h
$ kubectl logs $(kubectl get pod -l app=cloudflared -o jsonpath="{.items[0].metadata.name}")
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Starting tunnel tunnelID=ef824aef-7557-4b41-a398-4684585177ad
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Version
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF GOOS: linux, GOVersion: go1.15.7, GoArch: amd64
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Settings: map[config:/etc/cloudflared/config/config.yaml cred-file:/etc/cloudflared/creds/credentials.json credentials-file:/etc/cloudflared/creds/credentials.json metrics:0.0.0.0:2000 no-autoupdate:true]
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Generated Connector ID: 4c5dc5d3-8e10-480e-ac74-e385e591553e
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Initial protocol h2mux
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Starting metrics server on [::]:2000/metrics
2021-05-04T17:39:49Z INF Connection 1daced2f-466c-4610-8ba6-7642a8ddec68 registered connIndex=0 location=MCI
2021-05-04T17:39:50Z INF Connection 1a5276bc-3313-4bb7-a677-d93deccab24f registered connIndex=1 location=DFW
2021-05-04T17:39:51Z INF Connection aa7adacc-e855-4b11-bf41-e113419b7ef4 registered connIndex=2 location=MCI
2021-05-04T17:39:51Z INF Connection a8055c76-2a90-4be5-8dc9-ebaa5c58fb5f registered connIndex=3 location=DFW

Visit your hostname

At this point, you'll see the httpbin welcome page.

In this tutorial, we've covered how the same Tunnel can be run in many cloudflared processes. You can also use this knowledge to support elastic scaling, graceful cloudflared restarts, and rolling upgrades in the future.

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