Instructions for migrating a Go-based project built prior to v1.0.0 (0.19.x+) to use the Kubebuilder-style layout which is the default layout adopted by SDK since the 1.0.0 release.


The motivations for the new layout are related to bringing more flexibility to users and part of the process to Integrating Kubebuilder and Operator SDK. Because of this integration you may be referred to the Kubebuilder documentation for more information about certain topics. When using this document just remember to replace $ kubebuilder <command> with $ operator-sdk <command>.

Note: It is recommended that you have your project upgraded to the latest SDK v1.y release version before following the steps in this guide to migrate to the new layout. However, the steps might work from previous versions as well. In this case, if you find an issue which is not covered here then check the previous Migration Guides which might help out.

What was changed

  • The deploy directory was replaced with the config directory including a new layout of Kubernetes manifests files:

    • CRD manifests in deploy/crds/ are now in config/crd/bases
    • CR manifests in deploy/crds/ are now in config/samples
    • Controller manifest deploy/operator.yaml is now in config/manager/manager.yaml
    • RBAC manifests in deploy are now in config/rbac/
  • build/Dockerfile is moved to Dockerfile in the project root directory

  • pkg/apis and pkg/controllers are now in the root directory.

  • cmd/manager/main.go is now in the root directory.

What is new

Scaffolded projects now use:

  • kustomize to manage Kubernetes resources needed to deploy your operator
  • A Makefile with helpful targets to build, test, deploy and tailor things based on your project needs
  • Helpers and options to work with webhooks. For further information see What is a Webhook?
  • Updated metrics configuration using kube-auth-proxy, a --metrics-addr flag, and kustomize-based deployment of a Kubernetes Service and prometheus operator ServiceMonitor
  • Scaffolded tests that use the envtest test framework
  • Preliminary support for CLI plugins. For more info see the plugins design document
  • A PROJECT configuration file to store information about GVKs, plugins, and help the CLI make decisions
  • A new option to create projects using ComponentConfig. For more info, see the enhancement proposal and the Component config tutorial
  • Go version 1.15 (previously it was 1.13)

Generated files with the default API versions:

  • apiextensions/v1 for generated CRDs (apiextensions/v1beta1 was deprecated in Kubernetes 1.16 and will be removed in 1.22)
  • for webhooks ( was deprecated in Kubernetes 1.16 and will be removed in 1.22 )
  • for the certificate manager when webhooks are used ( was deprecated in Cert-Manager 0.14. More info: CertManager v1.0 docs)

Note: You can still use the deprecated APIs which are only needed to support Kubernetes 1.15 and earlier.

How to migrate

The easy migration path is to initialize a new project, re-recreate APIs, then copy pre-v1.0.0 configuration files into the new project.


  • Go through the installation guide.
  • Make sure your user is authorized with cluster-admin permissions.
  • An accessible image registry for various operator images (ex., and be logged in to your command line environment.
    • is used as the registry Docker Hub namespace in these examples. Replace it with another value if using a different registry or namespace.
    • Authentication and certificates if the registry is private or uses a custom CA.

Create a new project

In Kubebuilder-style projects, CRD groups are defined using two different flags (--group and --domain).

When we initialize a new project, we need to specify the domain that all APIs in our project will share, so before creating the new project, we need to determine which domain we’re using for the APIs in our existing project.

To determine the domain, look at the field in your CRDs in the deploy/crds directory.

The domain is everything after the first DNS segment. Using as an example, the --domain would be

So let’s create a new project with the same domain (

mkdir memcached-operator
cd memcached-operator
operator-sdk init --domain --repo

Note:: operator-sdk attempts to automatically discover the Go module path of your project by looking for a go.mod file, or if in $GOPATH, by using the directory path. Use the --repo flag to explicitly set the module path.

Check if your project is multi-group

Before we start creating the APIs, check if your project has more than one group such as: and If you intend to work with multiple groups in your project, then run the command operator-sdk edit --multigroup=true to change the project’s layout to support multi-group.

Note: In multi-group projects, APIs are defined in apis/<group>/<version> and controllers are defined in controllers/<group>. For further information see Single Group to Multi-Group.

Migrate APIs and Controllers

Now that we have our new project initialized, we need to re-create each of our APIs. Using our API example from earlier (, we’ll use cache for the --group, v1alpha1 for the --version and Memcached for --kind flag.

For each API in the existing project, run:

operator-sdk create api \
    --group=cache \
    --version=<version> \
    --kind=<Kind> \
    --resource \

How to keep for CRDs?

From now on, the CRDs that will be created by controller-gen will be using Kubernetes API version by default, instead of

The was deprecated in Kubernetes 1.16 and will be removed in Kubernetes 1.22.

If you would like to keep using the previous version, use the flag --crd-version=v1beta1 in the above command. This is only needed if you want your operator to support Kubernetes 1.15 and earlier.


Now let’s copy the API definition from pkg/apis/<group>/<version>/<kind>_types.go to api/<version>/<kind>_types.go. For our example, it is only required to copy the code from the Spec and Status fields.

This file is quite similar to the old one. Once you copy over your API definitions and generate manifests, you should end up with an identical API for your custom resource type. However, pay close attention to these kubebuilder Markers:

  • The +k8s:deepcopy-gen:interfaces=... marker was replaced with +kubebuilder:object:root=true.
  • If you are not using openapi-gen to generate OpenAPI Go code, then // +k8s:openapi-gen=true and other related openapi markers can be removed.

Note:: The operator-sdk generate openapi command was deprecated in 0.13.0 and was removed in 0.17 SDK release. Hence, it is recommended to use openapi-gen directly for OpenAPI code generation.

Our Memcached API types will look like:

// MemcachedSpec defines the desired state of Memcached
type MemcachedSpec struct {
	// Size is the size of the memcached deployment
	Size int32 `json:"size"`

// MemcachedStatus defines the observed state of Memcached
type MemcachedStatus struct {
	// Nodes are the names of the memcached pods
	Nodes []string `json:"nodes"`


// Memcached is the Schema for the memcacheds API
type Memcached struct {...}


// MemcachedList contains a list of Memcached
type MemcachedList struct {...}


SDK version 1.0.0 and later has support for webhooks by the CLI. If your project doesn’t require any webhooks, you can skip this section. However, if you have been using it via customizations in your project, you should use the tool to re-scaffold the webhooks.

A webhook can only be scaffolded for a pre-existent API in your project. Then, for each case you will run the command operator-sdk create webhook providing the --group, --kind and version of the API based on the flags that need to be used.

The valid flags for its types are: --defaulting, --programmatic-validation and --conversion. Use the same type that was used for scaffolding. To create defaulting and validating webhook:

operator-sdk create webhook \
    --group=cache \
    --version=<version> \
    --kind=<Kind> \
    --defaulting \

To create conversion webhook:

operator-sdk create webhook \
    --group=cache \
    --version=<version> \
    --kind=<Kind> \

After the webhook is generated, you will need to copy the webhook definition and content from your old project to the new one. You can find the respective file in api/v1/<kind>_webhook.go.

How to keep using for Webhooks?

Hereafter, the webhooks that are created by SDK will use Kubernetes API version by default instead of and instead of

Note that apiextensions/v1beta1 and were deprecated in Kubernetes 1.16 and will be removed in Kubernetes 1.22. If you use apiextensions/v1 and, then you need to use which will be the default API adopted by the SDK CLI.

Note: If you are using the API, it is not compatible with the latest Kubernetes API version. ( was deprecated in Cert-Manager 0.14. For more info, refer to CertManager v1.0 docs)

If you would like to use the previous version, use the flag --webhook-version=v1beta1 in the above command which is only required if you want your operator to support Kubernetes 1.15 and earlier.


Now let’s migrate the controller code from pkg/controller/<kind>/<kind>_controller.go to controllers/<kind>_controller.go following these steps:

  1. Copy over any struct fields from the existing project into the new <Kind>Reconciler struct. Note: The Reconciler struct has been renamed from Reconcile<Kind> to <Kind>Reconciler. In our example, we would see ReconcileMemcached instead of MemcachedReconciler.
  2. Replace the // your logic here in the new layout with your reconcile logic.
  3. Copy the code under func add(mgr manager.Manager, r reconcile.Reconciler) to func SetupWithManager:
func (r *MemcachedReconciler) SetupWithManager(mgr ctrl.Manager) error {
	return ctrl.NewControllerManagedBy(mgr).

In our example, the Watch implemented for the Deployment will be replaced with Owns(&appsv1.Deployment{}). Setting up controller Watches is simplified in more recent versions of controller-runtime, which has controller Builder helpers to handle more of the details.

Set RBAC permissions

The RBAC permissions are now configured via RBAC markers, which are used to generate and update the manifest files present in config/rbac/. These markers can be found (and should be defined) on the Reconcile() method of each controller.

In the Memcached example, they look like the following:


To update config/rbac/role.yaml after changing the markers, run make manifests.

By default, new projects are cluster-scoped (i.e. they have cluster-scoped permissions and watch all namespaces). Read the operator scope documentation for more information about changing the scope of your operator.

See the complete migrated memcached_controller.go code here.

Note: The version of controller-runtime used in the projects scaffolded by SDK 0.19.x+ was v0.6.0. Please check release docs from 0.7.0+ version for breaking changes.

Updating your ServiceAccount

New Go projects come with a ServiceAccount controller-manager in config/rbac/service_account.yaml. Your project’s RoleBinding and ClusterRoleBinding subjects, and Deployments spec.template.spec.serviceAccountName that reference a ServiceAccount already refer to this new name. When you run make deploy, your project’s name will be prepended to controller-manager, making it unique within a namespace, much like your old deploy/service_account.yaml. If you wish to use the old ServiceAccount, make sure to update all RBAC bindings and your manager Deployment.

Migrate main.go

By checking our new main.go we will find that:

func main() {
	ctx := context.TODO()
	// Become the leader before proceeding
	err = leader.Become(ctx, "memcached-operator-lock")
	if err != nil {
    	log.Error(err, "")

In order to use the previous one ensure that you have the operator-lib as a dependency of your project.

  • The default port used by the metric endpoint binds to :8080 from the previous :8383. To continue using port 8383, specify --metrics-bind-address=:8383 when you start the operator.

  • OPERATOR_NAME and POD_NAME environment variables are no longer used. OPERATOR_NAME was used to define the name for a leader election config map. Operator authors should use the LeaderElectionID attribute from the Manager Options which is hardcoded in main.go:

func main() {
	mgr, err := ctrl.NewManager(ctrl.GetConfigOrDie(), ctrl.Options{
		Scheme:                 scheme,
		MetricsBindAddress:     metricsAddr,
		Port:                   9443,
		HealthProbeBindAddress: probeAddr,
		LeaderElection:         enableLeaderElection,
		LeaderElectionID:       "",
  • Ensure that you copy all customizations made in cmd/manager/main.go to main.go. You’ll also need to ensure that all needed schemes have been registered, if you have been using third-party APIs (i.e Route Api from OpenShift).

Migrate your tests

For the new layout, you will see that controllers/suite_test.go is created when a controller is scaffolded by the tool. This file contains boilerplate for executing integration tests using envtest with ginkgo and gomega.

Operator SDK 1.0.0+ removes support for the legacy test framework and no longer supports the operator-sdk test subcommand. All affected tests should be migrated to use envtest.

The Operator SDK project recommends controller-runtime’s envtest because it has a more active contributor community, it is more mature than Operator SDK’s test framework, and it does not require an actual cluster to run tests, which can be a huge benefit in CI scenarios.

To learn more about how you can test your controllers, see the documentation about writing controller tests.

Migrate your Custom Resources

Custom resource samples are stored in ./config/samples using the new project structure. Copy the examples from your existing project into this directory. In existing projects, CR files have the format ./deploy/crds/<group>.<domain>_<version>_<kind>_cr.yaml.

In our example, we’ll copy the specs from deploy/crds/cache.example.com_v1alpha1_memcached_cr.yaml to config/samples/cache_v1alpha1_memcached.yaml

Configure your Operator

In case your project has customizations in the deploy/operator.yaml, it needs to be added to config/manager/manager.yaml. Note that OPERATOR_NAME and POD_NAME env vars are no longer used. For further information, check out the section Migrate main.go .

Export Metrics

If you are using metrics and would like to keep them exported, see that the func addMetrics() is no longer generated in the main.go and it is now configurable via kustomize.

Configure Prometheus metrics

  • Ensure that you have Prometheus installed in the cluster: To check if you have the required API resource to create the ServiceMonitor run:
kubectl api-resources | grep servicemonitors

If not, you can install Prometheus via kube-prometheus:

kubectl apply -f
  • Now uncomment the line - ../prometheus in the config/default/kustomization.yaml file. It creates the ServiceMonitor resource which enables exporting the metrics:
# [PROMETHEUS] To enable prometheus monitor, uncomment all sections with 'PROMETHEUS'.
- ../prometheus

Use Handler from operator-lib

By using the InstrumentedEnqueueRequestForObject you will be able to export metrics from your Custom Resources. In our example, it would look like:

import (

func (r *MemcachedReconciler) SetupWithManager(mgr ctrl.Manager) error {
	// Create a new controller
	c, err := controller.New("memcached-controller", mgr, controller.Options{Reconciler: r})
	if err != nil {
		return err
	err = c.Watch(&source.Kind{Type: &cachev1alpha1.Memcached{}}, &handler.InstrumentedEnqueueRequestForObject{})
	if err != nil {
		return err
	return nil

Note: Ensure that you have the operator-lib added to your go.mod.

In this way, the following metric with the resource info will be exported:

resource_created_at_seconds{"name", "namespace", "group", "version", "kind"}

Note: To check it you can create a pod to curl the metrics/ endpoint but note that it is now protected by the kube-auth-proxy which means that you will need to create a ClusterRoleBinding and obtain the token from the ServiceAccount’s secret which will be used in the requests. Otherwise, to test you can disable the kube-auth-proxy as well.

For more info see the metrics.

Operator image

The Dockerfile image also changes and now it is multi-stage, distroless and still rootless. However, users can change it to work as they want.

You might need to port some customizations made in your old Dockerfile as well. Also, if you wish to still use the previous UBI image replace:

# Use distroless as minimal base image to package the manager binary
# Refer to for more details



Generate Manifests and Build the operator

Note that:

  • operator-sdk generate crds is replaced with make manifests, which generates CRDs and RBAC rules.
  • operator-sdk build is replaced with make docker-build IMG=<some-registry>/<project-name>:<tag>.

In this way, run:

make manifests docker-build docker-push

Verify the migration

The project can now be deployed on cluster by running the command:

make deploy

You can troubleshoot your deployment by checking container logs:

kubectl logs deployment.apps/memcached-operator-controller-manager -n memcached-operator-system -c manager

For further steps regarding the deployment of the operator, creation of custom resources, and cleaning up of resources, see the tutorial.