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Deploy a Private Image in Amazon ECR to Kubernetes

Private Registry Basics

Artifact repositories are the home for the application binaries that need to be deployed. Artifact repositories can also house the building blocks that applications need e.g the dependencies that a final build will bundle up as a deployable artifact. The Docker Ecosystem has a concept of Docker Registries. These registries are designed to store and distribute Docker images.

There are a multitude of choices when picking a Docker Registry; from Docker Hub itself to cloud vendors to artifact repository vendors all having Docker Registry solutions. Sometimes what you are working on is internal to your organization or adding a layer of security that the public can not pick up the docker distribution of your application/service. Thus having a private Docker Registry is a prudent move. Deploying an image from a private Registry is similar to a public one, though there are authentication step(s) that are needed depending on the provider. In this example, we will deploy an image from a private Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) to a Kubernetes cluster.


You can leverage the example image and manifests in this tutorial or bring your own. The first step is to access your private registry.

Accessing Your Private Docker Registry - Amazon ECR

Head to the AWS Console and then to the ECR module. You can either create a new private ECR Repository or leverage an existing one. Once you have access to a private ECR Repository, they will be listed under Repositories on the Private tab. In this example, a private ECR Repository called “my-private-repo” has been created.

New Private Repo

Amazon does list out authentication commands by clicking into the Repository and clicking “View push commands”. This will require the AWS CLI and Docker on your machine.

Execute the authentication command to run on your local machine. If you have a private image and corresponding manifest to deploy, you can skip to the deployment section. If you do not, can use the below section to seed your private registry.

Seeding Your Private Registry

If you do not have an image that you want to deploy in your private registry, you can take an image that is publicly accessible that you want to deploy and push that into your private ECR Repository.

Let’s say you want to deploy Grafana as an example which will require an image. You can locally pull the image down then re-tag and push the image to match your ECR format.

docker pull grafana/grafana
docker tag grafana/grafana <ecr-id>.dkr.ecr.<region>
docker push <ecr-id>.dkr.ecr.<region>

Docker Push

With the push out of the way, you will see your newly seeded image in the ECR Registry.

Private Images

With an artifact in your private ECR Repository, you are now ready to deploy this with Harness.

Deploying a Private Image with Harness

If you do not have a Harness Account, sign up for a Harness Account for access to the Continuous Delivery Module. A default Harness Project will be created for you automatically. Projects are logical groupings of resources. The generated default project is perfect for the first time deployment.

When navigating back to Deployments, can set the project context to the Default Project by clicking on the blue chevrons >> and selecting Default Project.

Default Project

With the Default Project selected, clicking on Overview will bring up a wizard to create your first Pipeline/Deployment. There are a few Harness entities that will need to be created in Harness. The needed objects are wirings to Amazon ECR for private image access and GitHub for the manifests.

Install Delegate

Install Delegate

Install Delegate on Kubernetes or Docker

What is a Delegate?

Harness Delegate is a lightweight worker process that is installed on your infrastructure and communicates only via outbound HTTP/HTTPS to the Harness Platform. This enables the Harness Platform to leverage the delegate for executing the CI/CD and other tasks on your behalf, without any of your secrets leaving your network.

You can install the Harness Delegate on either Docker or Kubernetes.

Install Delegate

Create New Delegate Token

Login to the Harness Platform and go to Account Settings -> Account Resources -> Delegates. Click on the Tokens tab. Click +New Token and give your token a name `firstdeltoken`. When you click Apply, a new token is generated for you. Click on the copy button to copy and store the token in a temporary file for now. You will provide this token as an input parameter in the next delegation installation step. The delegate will use this token to authenticate with the Harness Platform.

Get Your Harness Account ID

Along with the delegate token, you will also need to provde your Harness accountId as an input parameter to the delegate installation. This accountId is present in every Harness URL. For example, in the following URL

6_vVHzo9Qeu9fXvj-AcQCb is the accountId.

Now you are ready to install the delegate on either Docker or Kubernetes.


Ensure that you access to a Kubernetes cluster. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will use minikube.

Install minikube

  • On Windows:
choco install minikube
  • On macOS:
brew install minikube

Now start minikube with the following config.

minikube start --memory 4g --cpus 4

Validate that you have kubectl access to your cluster.

kubectl get pods -A

Now that you have access to a Kubernetes cluster, you can install the delegate using any of the options below.

Install Helm Chart

As a prerequisite, you should have Helm v3 installed on the machine from which you connect to your Kubernetes cluster.

You can now install the delegate using the Delegate Helm Chart. Let us first add the harness-delegate helm chart repo to your local helm registry.

helm repo add harness-delegate
helm repo update
helm search repo harness-delegate

You can see that there are two helm charts available. We will use the harness-delegate/harness-delegate-ng chart in this tutorial.

NAME                                    CHART VERSION   APP VERSION DESCRIPTION                                
harness-delegate/harness-delegate-ng 1.0.8 1.16.0 A Helm chart for deploying harness-delegate

Now we are ready to install the delegate. The following command installs/upgrades firstk8sdel delegate (which is a Kubernetes workload) in the harness-delegate-ng namespace by using the harness-delegate/harness-delegate-ng helm chart.

helm upgrade -i firstk8sdel --namespace harness-delegate-ng --create-namespace \
harness-delegate/harness-delegate-ng \
--set delegateName=firstk8sdel \
--set delegateToken=PUT_YOUR_DELEGATE_TOKEN_HERE \
--set delegateDockerImage=harness/delegate:23.02.78306 \
--set replicas=1 --set upgrader.enabled=false

PUT_YOUR_MANAGER_HOST_AND_PORT_HERE should be replaced by the Harness Manager Endpoint noted below. For Harness SaaS accounts, you can find your Harness Cluster Location in the Account Overview page under Account Settings section of the left navigation. For Harness CDCE, the endpoint varies based on the Docker vs. Helm installation options.

Harness Cluster LocationHarness Manager Endpoint on Harness Cluster
SaaS prod-1
SaaS prod-2
SaaS prod-3
CDCE Dockerhttp://<HARNESS_HOST> if Docker Delegate is remote to CDCE or http://host.docker.internal if Docker Delegate is on same host as CDCE
CDCE Helmhttp://<HARNESS_HOST>:7143 where HARNESS_HOST is the public IP of the Kubernetes node where CDCE Helm is running

Verify Delegate Connectivity

Click Continue and in a few moments after the health checks pass, your Delegate will be available for you to use. Click Done and can verify your new Delegate is on the list.

Helm Chart & Terraform Helm Provider

Delegate Available

Kubernetes Manifest

Delegate Available


Delegate Available

You can now route communication to external systems in Harness connectors and pipelines by simply selecting this delegate via a delegate selector.

With the delegate installation out of th way, now you can wire your AWS Credentials to Harness.

Wiring Your AWS Credentials to Harness

Especially with a private registry/repository, credentials for the repository are usually scattered around a few scripts or prompted by a system to enter before deployment. Harness has a concept of a Cloud Connector so this will manage the persistence of your cloud provider credentials and use them on your behalf.

To get started with creating an AWS Cloud Provider connector, head to Account Settings -> Account Resources -> Connectors + New Connector -> AWS

Name: my_aws_connector

Create AWS Connector

Click Continue and pick your authentication mechanism. If you have an AWS Access Key and Secret, can enter those as encrypted credentials which gets stored in the Harness Secrets Manager.

For example, you can create “my_aws_access” for your Access Key and “my_aws_secret” for the Secret.

AWS Creds

Click continue and select how you will like to connect. Connecting through the Harness Delegate that was created in the above steps works fine. Select the Harness Delegate you created or let Harness select the best available delegate [though if you have only one, this is the same operation]. Then once selected, test the credentials.

AWS Creds Correct

With your credentials wired, you are now ready to create a Pipeline to deploy your private image.

Creating a Harness CD Pipeline For Your Private Image

With the Delegate and AWS credentials out of the way, you are now ready to create your first Pipeline. You will be deploying a Docker Image with a Kubernetes Manifest coming from Docker Hub and GitHub respectively. The following steps will walk you through how to create a Pipeline with those resources.

  • Deployments -> Pipelines + Create new Pipeline
  • Name: my-first-pipeline
  • Setup: in-line

New Pipeline

Click Start and add a Pipeline Stage by clicking the +Add Stage icon.

Select Stage

Select Deploy as the Stage. Next, name the stage “Deploy Grafana” as a type Service.

Stage Name

Then click Set Up Stage.

The first step is to define the Service by clicking on + New Service

About Service

Can name the Service “my-grafana-instance”.

New Service

Once Saved, the next step is to point to a Grafana Kubernetes Manifest. In the Service Definition section, select Kubernetes as the Deployment Type. Then you can add a Manifest from GitHub.

Service Defination

By selecting +Add Manifest, in the Manifest Wizard, select K8s Manifest.

K8s Manifest

Click continue and select GitHub as the Manifest Source/Store.

GitHub Store

Now you are ready to create a GitHub Connector. GitHub does require Personal Access Tokens [PATs] to access git operations. See below if you do not have one setup.

Wiring GitHub into Harness

Harness will also need access to where to grab the Kubernetes manifests from GitHub.

GitHub Wiring

GitHub as of 2021 requires token authentication e.g. no more passwords for git operations.

If you have not created a Personal Access Token before.

  • GitHub -> Settings -> Developer Settings -> Personal Access Tokens
  • Name: harness
  • Scopes: repo
  • Expiration: 30 days

GitHub PAT

Make sure to copy down the token that is generated.

In the GitHub Connector Wizard, there are a few steps to wire in your GitHub credentials. For the example authenticate against the repo which is housing the manifest.

Manifest Name: my-gh-connector

GitHub Connector

Click Next. Now can set up authentication against the repository.

GitHub URL

Click Next and provide your GitHub Username and Personal Access Token which can be stored securely in the Harness Secrets Manager.

GitHub Creds

Click on the Personal Access Token to configure your PAT.

  • Secrets Manager: Harness Built-in Secret Manager
  • Secret Name: github_pat

GitHub PAT Secret

Once you hit Save then Continue, select a Harness Delegate to run the operation on. If you have more than one Harness Delegate, can narrow the scope down or for the example, can “Use any available delegate” since this is the only one.

Pick Delegate

Click Save and Continue to validate the GitHub Connection.

Validate GitHub

Next, you will need to wire in the Manifest Details which are being pulled from

Looking at the GitHub structure there are two files to leverage, the deployment manifest and a values.yaml:

Grafana YAML Values YAML

Can wire those two manifests into Harness.

  • Manifest Name: grafana
  • Branch: main
  • File/Folder Path: /applications/grafana/grafana.yaml
  • Values.yaml: /applications/grafana/grafana_values.yaml

Harness has the ability to read in input variables in your Pipeline. In a deployment manifest, can wire in variables to be picked up by Harness. Later when executing the Pipeline, Harness can prompt you for which tag of the image to deploy with {{.Values.image}}.

Images Value Manifest Details

Click Submit, and now your Grafana Manifests will be wired to the Pipeline.

Manifest Wired

Now you are ready to wire in the private artifact.

Wiring In Private Registry / Artifact

In the Artifacts section, click + Add Primary Artifact. Select ECR is the Artifact Repository Type.

ECR Artifact Type

Click continue and select the AWS Connector you set up before as the credentials to connect with. For the next step, you will need to know the AWS Region your ECR instance is running.

  • Region: Your ECR Region
  • Image Path: my-private-repo [if using the example ECR repo]

ECR Artifact Details

Click Submit and your private image will be wired to the Pipeline.

Image Wired

Click Continue, and now you are ready to wire in where and how you want to deploy.

Where Your Pipeline Deploys To

The next step is to define the infrastructure or where your Pipeline will deploy to. The first step is to define the “where” as a Harness Environment.

Add Environment

A Harness Environment is your deployment target. You can create a new Harness Environment via the wizard by clicking on + New Environment.

  • Name: my-k8s-environment
  • Environment Type: Pre-Production

New Environment

Click Save and now you are ready to wire in your Kubernetes cluster. Since your Delegate should be running in a Kubernetes cluster, you can create a reference to this cluster with a Cluster Connector.

Select “Direct Connection” Kubernetes then can fill out the Cluster Details with a New Connector by clicking on the drop down.

Cluster Infra Def

Click on Select Connector and then + New Connector

Create Connector

Once clicked on + New Connector, can give a name to your Kubernetes cluster.

  • Name: my-k8s-cluster

Cluster Connector Name

Click Continue and select “Use the credentials of a specific Harness Delegate” to connect.

Connect via Delegate

Click Continue and select the Harness Delegate you installed into your Kubernetes Cluster e.g my-harness-delegate.

Delegate Setup

Click Finish and you can enter a namespace that is available on the Kubernetes cluster.

  • Namespace: default

Cluster Details

Click Continue and now you are ready to configure how you want your deployment to execute.

How Your Pipeline Deploys

Clicking Continue, you are now ready to configure the Execution Strategy or the “how” your Pipeline executes. Harness can guide you through several deployment strategies such as a Rolling Deployment or a Canary Deployment. For the example, a Rolling Deployment is simplest.

Execution Strategies

Select “Rolling Kubernetes” then click on Use Strategy. Now you are ready to save this Pipeline and execute the Pipeline to create a deployment.

Pipeline Ready to Save

Running Your Harness Pipeline

After the setup steps, you are on your way to a repeatable deployment process. Click run in the Pipeline Window.

Pipeline Ready to Run

Here you will see only one tag [or the private tags you have available for your image(s)]. Select “latest” if leveraging the example pushed image and click Run Pipeline.

Run Latest

After a few moments, your deployment is complete!


Head back to your terminal and run a kubectl command to get the address [External IP] of what you just deployed. If you are using minikube, to expose a Kubernetes Service, you might have to run minikube tunnel.

kubectl get services -A

External IP

Head to the External-IP over port 3000 to see Grafana. E.g By default, the Grafana user and password is admin/admin.

Grafana UI

Congratulations on deploying a private image in a Continuous Delivery Pipeline!