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Deploy Retool on Kubernetes with manifests

Learn how to deploy Retool on Kubernetes with manually configured manifests.

You can deploy Self-hosted Retool on Kubernetes using manually configured manifests. You can use this approach if you do not manage packages with Helm.

Requirements

To deploy Self-hosted Retool with Workflows, you need:

Temporal

Temporal is a distributed system used to schedule and run asynchronous tasks for Retool Workflows. A Self-hosted Retool instance uses a Temporal cluster to facilitate the execution of each workflow amongst a pool of self-hosted workers that make queries and execute code in your VPC. Temporal manages the queueing, scheduling, and orchestration of workflows to guarantee that each workflow block executes in the correct order of the control flow. It does not store any block results by default.

You can use a Retool-managed cluster on Temporal Cloud, which is recommended for most use cases. You can also use an existing self-managed cluster that is hosted on Temporal Cloud or in your own infrastructure. Alternatively, you can spin up a new self-hosted cluster alongside your Self-hosted Retool instance.

Recommended

You should use a Retool-managed cluster if:

  • You are on a version greater than 3.6.14.
  • Your organization is on the Enterprise plan.
  • You don't have an existing cluster which you prefer to use.
  • Your cluster only needs to be used for a Self-hosted Retool deployment.
  • You don't want to manage the cluster directly.
  • You have a single or multi-instance Retool deployment, where each instance requires its own namespace.

Retool admins can enable Retool-managed Temporal. To get started, navigate to the Retool Workflows page and click Enroll now. Once you update your configuration, return to the page and click Complete setup.

Initializing namespace in Retool-managed Temporal

It can take a few minutes to initialize a namespace in Retool-managed Temporal.

Retool-managed Temporal clusters are hosted on Temporal Cloud. Your Self-hosted Retool deployment communicates with the cluster when building, deploying, and executing Retool Workflows. All orchestration data to Temporal is fully encrypted and uses the private encryption key set for your deployment.

Cluster size

The cluster must have at least one node with 8x vCPUs and 16 GB of memory. Use the following command to retrieve the capacity of your nodes.

$ kubectl describe nodes

In the Capacity section, verify the cpu and memory values meet the above requirements.

Capacity:
attachable-volumes-aws-ebs: 25
cpu: 8
ephemeral-storage: 83873772Ki
hugepages-1Gi: 0
hugepages-2Mi: 0
memory: 7931556Ki
pods: 29

Cluster storage class

If you want to mount volumes, ensure the volume supplied by your cloud provider can be mounted to multiple nodes. To identify your cluster's storage class, run the command

$ kubectl get storageclass

Reference your cloud provider's documentation to verify that this storage class supports the ReadWriteMany access mode.

Self-hosted Retool with Workflows deployments on Kubernetes are configured using a set of manifests. To retrieve a copy of the manifests, download the retool-onpremise repository to your local machine. Open the kubernetes directory in an IDE to follow along the steps below.

curl -L -O https://github.com/tryretool/retool-onpremise/archive/master.zip && unzip master.zip \
&& cd retool-onpremise-master/kubernetes

1. Configure version

info

Self-hosted Retool requires 3.6.14 or later for Retool-managed Temporal cluster.

Set the image value in the following files to the Docker tag for the version of Retool to install, such as tryretool/backend:3.52.3-stable.

  • retool-container.yaml
  • retool-jobs-runner.yaml
  • retool-workflows-worker-container.yaml
  • retool-workflows-backend-container.yaml

In retool-code-executor-container.yaml, change the image tag to indicate the version of Retool's code executor service to install. This must match the version of Retool for which you're deploying.

image: tryretool/code-executor-service:3.52.3-stable

2. Update configuration

Copy retool-secrets.template.yaml to a new file named retool-secrets.yaml. This file sets the configuration options for your deployment, and stores them as Kubernetes secrets.

cp retool-secrets.template.yaml retool-secrets.yaml

Set the following secrets for Retool. These values must be Base64-encoded.

tip

To generate 36-character, Base64-encoded random strings for config.encryptionKey and config.jwtSecret, run openssl rand -base64 36.

SettingDescription
data.jwt_secretSecret used to sign authentication requests from Retool's server. Generate a base64 encoded string with openssl.
data.encryption_keyKey used to encrypt the database. Generate a base64 encoded string with openssl.
data.license_keyLicense key. Encode your license key using the command echo -n \<licensekey\> | base64/
data.postgres_passwordPassword for Retool's internal database. Generate a Base64-encoded string with openssl.

Allow your deployment to connect to Temporal

Open up egress to the public internet on ports 443 and 7233 to allow outbound-only connections to Temporal Cloud from your deployment. This allows Workflows workers to pick up work and the Workflows backend to enqueue work on Temporal Cloud.

Your deployment must be able to connect through the public internet connection as Temporal Cloud does not have a static IP range.

Additional configuration

The following configuration steps are optional but strongly recommended for using Retool in a production environment.

Externalize database

By default, the Retool Kubernetes installation uses a PostgreSQL pod to create a containerized instance of PostgreSQL. This is not suitable for production use cases, and the Retool storage database should be hosted on an external, managed database. Managed databases are more maintainable, scalable, and reliable than containerized PostgreSQL instances. These instructions explain how to set up Retool with an external database.

1. Export data

If you have already populated the PostgreSQL pod, export its data.

kubectl exec -it <POSTGRES-POD-NAME> -- bash -c 'pg_dump hammerhead_production --no-acl --no-owner --clean -U postgres' > retool_db_dump.sql

2. Encrypt database password

echo -n <password> | base64

3. Set the PostgreSQL credentials

In retool-secrets.yaml, set the value of postgres_password as the Base64-encoded password. Set the remaining environment variables for the managed PostgreSQL instance as follows:

SettingDescription
POSTGRES_DBThe database name created for Retool state. This applies to all retool-* containers (except the retool-code-executor-container).
POSTGRES_HOSTThe database host and port for the PostgreSQL instance. This applies to all retool-* (except retool-code-executor-container).
POSTGRES_PORTDefaults to 5432.
POSTGRES_USERThe user for the PostgreSQL instance. This applies to all retool-* (except the retool-code-executor-container).

5. Apply changes to the manifests

Use kubectl to apply manifest changes.

kubectl apply -f -R kubernetes

Add environment variables

Environment variables provide ways to configure a Retool instance.

1. Update manifests

Configure environment variables in the following files:

  • retool-container.yaml
  • retool-jobs-runner.yaml
  • retool-workflows-worker-container.yaml
  • retool-workflows-backend-container.yaml

The following example configures the DBCONNECTOR_QUERY_TIMEOUT_MS variable, but this pattern applies to other environment variables as well.

env:
- name: DBCONNECTOR_QUERY_TIMEOUT_MS
value: 360000

2. Apply changes to the manifests

Use kubectl to apply manifest changes.

kubectl apply -f -R kubernetes

3. Verify pods

Run kubetcl get pods to verify pods are running.

NAME                                     READY   STATUS    RESTARTS     AGE
api-76464f5576-vc5f4 1/1 Running 1 (8h ago) 8h
jobs-runner-5cfb79cbfd-b49rd 1/1 Running 0 8h
postgres-69c485649c-lkjgc 1/1 Running 0 8h
...

Mount volumes

There are several use cases which require the use of volumes. For example, when configuring a gRPC resource, you need to mount a volume containing the protos files to the Retool deployment. Follow these instructions to create a persistent volume and copy files from your local machine to the volume.

1. Set security context

In a later step, you use kubectl cp to copy files from your local machine to the Kubernetes cluster, which requires the pod to run with root privileges.

Modify your deployment so the pods run as root by adding the securityContext in the retool-container.yaml file:

spec:
securityContext:
runAsUser: 0
fsGroup: 2000

2. Apply changes to the manifest

Use kubectl to apply manifest changes.

kubectl apply -f retool-container.yaml

3. Verify pods

Run kubectl get pods to verify that pods are ready.

NAME                                     READY   STATUS    RESTARTS     AGE
api-76464f5576-vc5f4 1/1 Running 1 (8h ago) 8h
jobs-runner-5cfb79cbfd-b49rd 1/1 Running 0 8h
postgres-69c485649c-lkjgc 1/1 Running 0 8h
...

4. Copy protos files

Next, copy the protos files from your local machine to the PVC. Ensure you local machine has a folder named protos and run the following command. Replace api-76464f5576-vc5f4 with the name of your main Retool container, retrieved from kubectl get pods.

kubectl cp protos/ api-76464f5576-vc5f4:/retool_backend/pv-data/protos

5. Set directory path

If you're configuring gRPC, specify the location of the protos directory. In retool-container.yaml, set the PROTO_DIRECTORY_PATH environment variable.

env:
- name: PROTO_DIRECTORY_PATH
value: "/retool_backend/pv-data/protos"

6. Reset security context

Reset the security context of your deployment by removing the securityContext field, or by defining a non-root user.

Apply changes to the manifest.

kubectl apply -f retool-container.yaml

Configure SSL

When configuring SSL, you can use Let's Encrypt to provision a certificate, or provide your own. See Configure SSL and custom certificates for more detail on certificates.

1. Generate self-signed certificate

Generate a self-signed certificate and private key using openssl. Replace KEY_FILE, CERT_FILE, and HOST with your key file name, certificate file name, and hostname, or set environment variables naming each.

openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout ${KEY_FILE} -out ${CERT_FILE} -subj "/CN=${HOST}/O=${HOST}" -addext "subjectAltName = DNS:${HOST}"

2. Create a TLS secret

Create a TLS secret using kubectl. Replace KEY_FILE and CERT_FILE with your key and certificate file names.

kubectl create secret tls ${CERT_NAME} --key ${KEY_FILE} --cert ${CERT_FILE}

3. Install the Ingress-Nginx Controller

If you haven't already, install the Nginx-Ingress Controller using the instructions for your environment. To confirm the installation was successful, run the following command. Its output should contain an entry for the ingress-nginx-controller pod.

kubectl get pods -n ingress-nginx

4. Create an ingress resource

Create an ingress resource with the following manifest. Replace retool.example.com with your domain, and testsecret-tls with your TLS secret. See the TLS section of the Kubernetes Ingress documentation for more information.

If you haven't already, install the Ingress-Nginx Controller using the instructions for your environment. To confirm the installation was successful, run the following command. Its output should contain an entry for the ingress-nginx-controller pod.

apiVersion: networking.k8s.io/v1
kind: Ingress
metadata:
name: tls-example-ingress
annotations:
kubernetes.io/tls-acme: "true"
spec:
ingressClassName: nginx
tls:
- hosts:
- retool.example.com
secretName: testsecret-tls
rules:
- host: retool.example.com
http:
paths:
- path: /
pathType: Prefix
backend:
service:
name: api
port:
number: 3000

Update your Kubernetes instance

Follow these instructions to update your Retool instance to a newer release version.

1. Back up your database

If you use a managed database service, your database provider may have a feature to take snapshots or otherwise back up your database. If you use the PostgreSQL subchart, run the following command to export data from the PostgreSQL pod to a .sql file.

kubectl exec -it <POSTGRES-POD-NAME> -- bash -c 'pg_dump hammerhead_production --no-acl --no-owner --clean -U postgres' > retool_db_dump.sql

2. Select a new version

Set the image value in the following files to the Docker tag for the version of Retool to install, such as tryretool/backend:3.52.3-stable.

  • retool-container.yaml
  • retool-jobs-runner.yaml
  • retool-workflows-worker-container.yaml
  • retool-workflows-backend-container.yaml
image: tryretool/backend:3.52.3-stable

3. Apply changes to the manifests

Use kubectl to apply manifest changes.

kubectl apply -f -R kubernetes

4. Verify pods

Run kubectl get pods to verify that the update has completed.

NAME                                     READY   STATUS    RESTARTS     AGE
api-76464f5576-vc5f4 1/1 Running 1 (8h ago) 8h
jobs-runner-5cfb79cbfd-b49rd 1/1 Running 0 8h
postgres-69c485649c-lkjgc 1/1 Running 0 8h
...