Java Operator SDK - Documentation

Introduction & Resources on Operators

Operators are easy and simple way to manage resource on Kubernetes clusters but also outside of the cluster. The goal of this SDK is to allow writing operators in Java by providing a nice API and handling common issues regarding the operators on framework level.

For an introduction, what is an operator see this blog post.

You can read about the common problems what is this operator framework is solving for you here.

Getting Started

The easiest way to get started with SDK is start minikube and execute one of our examples

Here are the main steps to develop the code and deploy the operator to a Kubernetes cluster. A more detailed and specific version can be found under samples/mysql-schema/

  1. Setup kubectl to work with your Kubernetes cluster of choice.
  2. Apply Custom Resource Definition
  3. Compile the whole project (framework + samples) using mvn install in the root directory
  4. Run the main class of the sample you picked and check out the sample’s README to see what it does. When run locally the framework will use your Kubernetes client configuration (in ~/.kube/config) to make the connection to the cluster. This is why it was important to set up kubectl up front.
  5. You can work in this local development mode to play with the code.
  6. Build the Docker image and push it to the registry
  7. Apply RBAC configuration
  8. Apply deployment configuration
  9. Verify if the operator is up and running. Don’t run it locally anymore to avoid conflicts in processing events from the cluster’s API server.


Controllers are where you implement the business logic of the Operator. An Operator can host multiple Controllers, each handling a different type of Custom Resource. In our samples each Operator has a single Controller.

Dealing with Consistency

Run Single Instance

There should be always just one instance of an operator running at a time (think process). If there would be two ore more, in general it could lead to concurrency issues. Note that we are also doing optimistic locking when we update a resource. In this way the operator is not highly available. However for operators this is not necessarily an issue, if the operator just gets restarted after it went down.

At Least Once

To implement controller logic, we have to override two methods: createOrUpdateResource and deleteResource. These methods are called if a resource is created/changed or marked for deletion. In most cases these methods will be called just once, but in some rare cases, it can happen that they are called more then once. In practice this means that the implementation needs to be idempotent.

Smart Scheduling

In our scheduling algorithm we make sure, that no events are processed concurrently for a resource. In addition we provide a customizable retry mechanism to deal with temporal errors.

Operator Restarts

When an operator is started we got events for every resource (of a type we listen to) already on the cluster. Even if the resource is not changed (We use kubectl get ... --watch in the background). This can be a huge amount of resources depending on your use case. So it could be a good case to just have a status field on the resource which is checked, if there is anything needed to be done.

Deleting a Resource

During deletion process we use Kubernetes finalizers. This is required, since it can happen that the operator is not running while the delete of resource is executed (think oc delete). In this case we would not catch the delete event. So we automatically add a finalizer first time we update the resource if it’s not there.