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Setting up Kubernetes to manage containers on the Google Cloud Platform

Published / by tuxninja / Leave a Comment

These days the pace of innovation in DevOps can leave you feeling like you’re jogging on a treadmill programmed to run faster than Usain Bolt. Mastery requires hours of practice and the last decade in DevOps has not allowed for it. Before gaining 10 years of experience running virtual machines using VmWare in private data-centers, private cloud software like Openstack and Cloudstack came along, and just when you and your team painfully achieved a stable install you were told running virtual machines in public clouds like AWS, GCP, and Azure is the way forward. By the time you got there it was time to switch to containers, and before you can fully appreciate those, server-less functions are on the horizon, but I digress. If you want to know more about server-less functions, see my previous article on AWS Lambda. Instead, this article will focus on running Docker containers inside of a Kubernetes cluster on Google’s Cloud Platform.

Linux Containers, which were recently popularized by Docker need something to help manage them and while there are many choices, Kubernetes the open-sourced container management system from Google is the undisputed king at this time. Given that Kubernetes was started by Google, it should be expected that the easiest way to install it is using Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP). However, Openshift from Redhat also provides a nice batteries included abstraction if you need to get up and running quickly as well as kops.


The main pre-requisites you need for this article is a Google Cloud Platform account and installing the gcloud utility via the SDK.

In addition, you need some form of a computer with Internet connectivity, some typing skills, a brain that can read, and a determination to finish…For now I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have all of these. It is also nice to have your beverage of choice while you do this, a fine tea, ice cold beer, or glass of wine will work, but for Cancer’s sake please skip the sugar.

Here is where I would normally insert a link to facts on sugar and Cancer’s link, but I literally just learned I would be spreading rumors… Fine drink your Kool-Aid, but don’t blame me for your calories.

The Build Out of our Self Healing IRC Server Hosting Containers

I lied dude, IRC is so 1995 and unfortunately, ICQ’s been dead and Slack won’t let me host their sexy chat application with game like spirit and better jokes than Kevin Heart. So…sorry to excite you… but I guess I will fallback to the docs here and install Nginx like us newb’s are supposed to.

Numero Uno (Step 1 dude)

As part of the installation of the gcloud / SDK you should have ran gcloud init, which requires you to login with your Google account via a web browser.

After clicking allow in your browser you will be logged in…and asked about creating an initial Project. Say yes (type Y and hit enter).

Sweet your Project is now created. In order to use the Google Cloud API’s you must first enable access by visiting https://console.developers.google.com/apis/api/replicapool.googleapis.com/overview and clicking enable.

That will take a minute. Once completed you will be able to run gcloud commands against your Project. We can set the default region for our project like so:

If you get an error here, stop being cheap and link your project to your billing account in the console.

Additionally, we want to set the default region/zone for gcloud commands like so:

Numero Dos Equis

We need to install kubectl so we can interact with Kubernetes.

Once that is done, quickly realize someone spent an obscene amount of time making that install as pretty as it was without using ncurses. Shout out to that geek.

Numero Tres Deliquentes

Time to create our Kubernetes cluster. Run this command and “it’s going to be LEGEND….Wait for it….

And I hope you’re not lactose intolerant cause the second half of that word is DAIRY.” – NPH

Numero (Audi) Quattro

Now you should be able to see all running Kubernetes services in your cluster like so:

And we can see the pods like so:

Numero Cinco (de Mayo)

You now have an active Kubernetes cluster. That is pretty sweet huh? Make sure you take the time to check out what’s running under the hood in the Google Compute Engine as well.

Ok, for our final act, I promised Nginx…sigh…Let’s get this over with!

Step 1, create this nifty YAML file:

Save it as deployment.yaml, then apply it!

We can describe our deployment like this:

And we can take a gander at the pods created for this deployment

To see info about a specific pod run: 

Finally it’s time to expose Nginx to the Internet

Check the status of our service

Note the EXTERNAL-IP is in a pending state, once the LoadBalancer is created, this will have an IP address.

And were all done, congratulations! 🙂

In Closing…

Kubernetes is cool as a fan, and setting it up on GCP is almost as easy as pressing the big EASY button. We have barely scraped the surface here so for continued learning I recommend buying Kubernetes Up & Running by Kelsey Hightower, Brendan Burns and Joe Beda. I would follow these folks on twitter, and in addition follow Kubernetes Co-Founder Tim Hockin as well as former Docker, Google, and now Microsoft employee/guru of all things containers Jessie Frazelle.

After you are done following these inspirational leaders in the community go to youtube and watch every Kelsey Hightower video you can find. Kelsey Hightower is perhaps the tech communities best presenter and no one has done more to educate and bring Kubernetes to the mainstream than Kelsey. So a quick shout out and thank you to Kelsey for his contributions to the community. In his honor here are two of my favorite videos from Kelsey. [ one ] [ two ].