Provisioning Amazon EKS Using Terraform Cloud with a Remote Backend

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) is AWS’ service for deploying, managing, and scaling containerized applications with Kubernetes. Terraform Cloud is an application that manages Terraform runs & allows for automated deployments.

In this exercise, my plan was to provision an Amazon EKS cluster with Terraform Cloud, while meeting the following requirements: For the EKS Cluster, one worker group shall have a desired capacity of 2. Also, a random string shall allows 5 characters to build the cluster name. Next, we will output the cluster name and IP address of the containers in the cluster. Last, this work will be done in my Terminal with a remote backend controlling Terraform Cloud.

For this exercise, I needed:

  • Terraform Cloud Account
  • IDE (I used Atom. If using Atom, go here to install Terraform syntax package)
  • AWS Account


  • will provision my VPC, subnets, and availability zones
  • will establish the security groups used by the EKS cluster
  • will provision the resources (ie Auto Scaling Groups) required to set up the EKS cluster

The resulting architecture is diagrammed below:

Image 1: Architecture

STEP 1: Set Up Terraform Cloud Workspace

To configure today’s Terraform Cloud Workspace, I first forked HashiCorp’s EKS repository on Github. Image 2 shows the repo in my Github, which contains a couple important files not yet articulated in this article:

  • will define the output configuration, which in this case
  • will sets the Terraform version to at least 0.14
Image 2: The Repo

I then created a new Workspace, and connected to my Github (Image 3). Hereafter, I connected to the repo from Image 2, so that Terraform Cloud was pulling the relevant code from Github.

Image 3: Creating New Workspace & Connecting to my GitHub

I then set my variables (Access Key, Secret Access Key, Default Region) with the completed variables seen in Image 4.

Image 4: Environment Variables

With that, my Terraform Cloud Workspace was set up.

Step 2: Setting up Remote Backend

Image 5: Cloning & confirming cloned

Now that my Workspace was set up & I had the repo cloned to my local environment, I was ready to set up my remote backend.

First I needed to ensure I had a user token created in Terraform Cloud. If you want to check if you have one, or if you need to make one, go here.

The token then needed to be put in a .terraformrc file in my home directory. I did this by making the file (Image 6), text editing the unique information in the following format:

credentials “” {
token = “<insert token here>”
Image 6: Making the file & starting to text edit

Image 7 shows the content of the file (blocked out sensitive information).

Image 7: Confirming token in the file

I then needed to write into my Terraform files that I would be remotely accessing, and to do this I pasted the below with my unique organization and workspace. I pasted this into in Atom (Image 8). Note this is for a single workspace and would be done differently for multiple workspaces, which you can read more about here.

terraform {
backend “remote” {
hostname = “”
organization = “<name of organization>” workspaces {
name = “<name of workspace>”
Image 8: Adding remote backend to

After saving the file, my remote backend was set.

STEP 3: Initialize, Format, Validate, Plan

Image 9: Terraform init -upgrade

I then ran terraform fmt & terraform validate to ensure I was all set (Image 10).

Image 10: Terraform fmt & Terraform validate

I then ran terraform init -upgrade but received an error: “The “remote” backend encountered an unexpected error while reading the organization settings: unauthorized”

After some troubleshooting I arrived at this resource. I determined that API token being used in $HOME/.terraform.d/credentials.tfrc.json was an old API token, so I opened that file and re-wrote the current token.

I then successfully ran terraform init -upgrade. I then ran terraform fmt, terraform validate, and terraform plan. When I ran terraform plan, you can see that the remote backend was confirmed in yellow (Image 11).

Image 11: Confirmed remote backend

However, my terraform plan was not successful, and I received an error suggesting something was off with my AWS provider credentials (Image 12).

Image 12: Error

I ran through a few possible mistakes on my part, but none of these were the guilty parties:

  • I checked that my AWS credentials in were correct with the command aws configure. The credentials were correct.
  • I checked that my AWS credentials did not have any irregular characters (I read that in some Terraform versions, credentials with a “+” for example are not well-received. This however was not the problem either.
  • I also knew that my problem was not from a third party tool touching my credentials, such as Vault, because I wasn’t using such a tool.
  • I also knew my AWS user had permissions needed to program these resources, so I knew AWS IAM was not the problem.
  • Also I confirmed that my region in the Terraform configuration & my default AWS CLI region were the same (for this exercise both were us-east-2), so that wasn’t the problem.
  • Also I checked that my AWS provider versions were up to date which they were, so that wasn’t the problem (Image 13).
Image 13: Running terraform version to check AWS provider version

This was admittedly one of the more laborsome troubleshoot sessions in recent memory…

I then tried something random. All the way back in Image 4, my environment variables in Terraform Cloud were named with lower cases. I re-wrote them and re-entered the variables, as seen in Image 14.

Image 14: Capitalizing my Environment Variable keys

Sure enough, I received a successful terraform plan as you can see in my Terraform Cloud run in Image 15.

Image 15: Successful Terraform Plan

With that, I had completed STEP 3: Initialize, Format, Validate, Plan

STEP 4: Double Checking

To recall from the introduction of this article, the requirements were:

  • For the EKS Cluster, one worker group shall have a desired capacity of 2.

I was able to confirm this in my file (Image 16).

Image 16: Confirmed that one worker group with have an ASG desired capacity of 2
  • A random string shall allows 5 characters to build the cluster name

I had to change this one because in the repo I forked from HashiCorp, the value was 8. I amended it to 5 and saved where I’d made the change (Image 17).

Image 17: Changing to have 5 characters instead of 8
  • Output the cluster name & IP address of the containers in the cluster.

Here, both were already written into (Image 18). They are “cluster_name” and “cluster_endpoint.” The forked repo has other outputs as well.

Image 18: Confirming cluster name & cluster endpoint

I was now satisfied that my work met the requirements, and I was nearly ready to provision the resources.

Step 5: Version Control

This also means that when running a Terraform Plan from my Terminal as I did, this was a speculative plan. That is, I was testing changes for editing and code review, but I cannot use this method to remotely run Terraform Apply. The reason for this is that Terraform Apply must happen in Terraform Cloud, so we can guarantee that regardless of multiple team members are working on one project, we don’t compromise the integrity of our version control.

And so I now need to push my files to the Github, and then I’ll run the Terraform Apply from Terraform Cloud thereafter.

I ran git add -A & git status to stage the files (Image 19).

Image 19: Staging

I then ran git commit -m “edit and add” to commit and confirm prep (Image 20).

Image 20: Commit

I then ran git push origin HEAD to push to Github.

Image 21: Push

I then went to my Github and sure enough my changes were made. For example you can see in Image 22 that the file now has the remote backend.

Image 22: Confirmed changes in Github

STEP 6: Provision Resources

Image 23: Autonomy

The plan ran automatically & successfully (Image 24). This is great because it lets me know that none of the changes to my Github have compromised my ability to run.

Image 24: Successful automatic run

I was finally ready to provision the resources, so I ran Terraform Apply in Terraform Cloud. I patiently watched the log in Terraform Cloud (Image 25), and after 12 minutes Terraform Cloud indicated that it was a successful run (Image 26).

Image 25: Watching log
Image 26: Apply finished

With that, the resources seemed to be provisioned, but in the next step I wanted to make sure they were provisioned.

STEP 7: Test

Image 26: Cluster confirmed
Image 27: VPC confirmed

Also my outputs met my requirements of printing cluster names and addresses (Image 28).

Image 28: Confirmed outputs

And lastly my architectural requirements were met as one worker group had a desired capacity of 2 (Image 29).

Image 29: Capacity requirement confirmed

STEP 8: Destroy

Image 30: Start to Destroy
Image 31: Destroying
Image 32: Destroyed


Thanks for reading.

Credits: I was pointed in the direction of this exercise through my training course, LUIT. My most key resource HashiCorp’s Provision an EKS Cluster (AWS) tutorial. Also “Pablo’s Spot” Youtube channel, Episode Infrastructure as Code: Terraform Cloud as Remote Backend helped with the remote backend.

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