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cert-manager makes use of extending the Kubernetes API server using a Webhook server to provide dynamic admission control over cert-manager resources. This means that cert-manager benefits from most of the same behavior that core Kubernetes resource have. The webhook has three main functions:

  • ValidatingAdmissionWebhook: Ensures that when cert-manager resources are created or updated, they conform to the rules of the API. This validation is more in depth than for example ensuring resources conform to the OpenAPI schema, but instead contains logic such as not allowing to specify more than one Issuer type per Issuer resource. The validating admission is always called and will respond with a success or failed response.
  • MutatingAdmissionWebhook: Changes the contents of resources during create and update operations, for example to set default values.
  • CustomResourceConversionWebhook: The webhook is also responsible for implementing a conversion over versions in the cert-manager CustomResources ( This means that multiple API versions can be supported, such as v1alpha2, v1alpha3 simultaneously, making it possible to rely on a particular version of our configuration schema.

The webhook component is deployed as another pod that runs alongside the main cert-manager controller and CA injector components.

In order for the API server to communicate with the webhook component, the webhook requires a TLS certificate that the apiserver is configured to trust. This is created by the cainjector and is implemented by the following two Secrets:

  • secret/cert-manager-webhook-ca: A self-signed root CA certificate which is used to sign certificates for the webhook pod.
  • secret/cert-manager-webhook-tls: A TLS certificate issued by the root CA above, served by the webhook.

If errors occur around the webhook but the webhook is running then the webhook is most likely not reachable from the API server. In this case, ensure that the API server can communicate with the webhook by following the GKE private cluster explanation.