Scaling user clusters

To scale your workloads on GKE on AWS, you can configure your AWSNodePools to automatically scale out, or manually create and delete AWSNodePools to scale up or down.

Cluster Autoscaler

GKE on AWS implements the Kubernetes Cluster Autoscaler. When demand on your nodes is high, Cluster Autoscaler adds nodes to the node pool. When demand is low, Cluster Autoscaler scales back down to a minimum size that you designate. This can increase the availability of your workloads when you need it while controlling costs.


Cluster Autoscaler automatically resizes the number of nodes in a given node pool, based on the demands your workloads. You don't need to manually add or remove nodes or over-provision your node pools. Instead, you specify a minimum and maximum size for the node pool, and the cluster scales automatically.

If resources are deleted or moved when autoscaling your cluster, your workloads might experience transient disruption. For example, if your workload consists of a single replica, that replica's Pod might be rescheduled onto a different node if its current node is deleted. Before enabling Cluster Autoscaler in your AWSNodePool, design your workloads to tolerate potential disruption or ensure that critical Pods are not interrupted.

How Cluster Autoscaler Works

Cluster Autoscaler works on a per-node pool basis. When you create a node pool, you specify a minimum and maximum size for the node pool in the AWSNodePool Kubernetes resource.

You can disable Cluster Autoscaler by setting spec.minNodeCount to equal spec.maxNodeCount on your AWSNodePools.

Cluster Autoscaler increases or decreases the size of the node pool automatically, based on the resource requests (rather than actual resource utilization) of Pods running on that node pool's nodes. It periodically checks the status of Pods and nodes, and takes action:

If Pods are unschedulable because there are not enough nodes in the node pool, Cluster Autoscaler adds nodes, up to the maximum size of the node pool. If nodes are under-utilized, and all Pods could be scheduled even with fewer nodes in the node pool, Cluster Autoscaler removes nodes, down to the minimum size of the node pool. If the node cannot be drained gracefully after a timeout period (10 minutes), the node is forcibly terminated. The grace period is not configurable.

If your Pods have requested too few resources (for example, if the defaults are insufficient), Cluster Autoscaler does not correct the situation. You can help ensure Cluster Autoscaler works as accurately as possible by creating adequate resource requests for all of your workloads.

Operating Criteria

Cluster Autoscaler makes the following assumptions when resizing a node pool:

  • All replicated Pods can be restarted on some other node, possibly causing a brief disruption. If your services do not tolerate disruption, we don't recommend using Cluster Autoscaler.

  • All nodes in a single node pool have the same set of labels.

  • If you have AWSNodePools with different instance types, Cluster Autoscaler considers the relative cost of launching new nodes, and attempts to expand the least expensive node pool.

  • Labels manually added after initial cluster or node pool creation are not tracked. Nodes created by Cluster Autoscaler are assigned labels specified with --node-labels at the time of node pool creation.

Resize a Node Pool

An AWSNodePool includes minNodeCount and maxNodeCount fields. These fields declare a minimum and maximum number of worker nodes in the pool. You may edit these values before or after the AWSNodePool is created.

Before you begin

Provision a cluster using the instructions in Creating a user cluster. Have the YAML file (for example, cluster-0.yaml) that creates the cluster available.

Enabling automatic node pool scaling

  1. From your anthos-aws directory, use anthos-gke to switch context to your management service.

    cd anthos-aws
    anthos-gke aws management get-credentials

  2. To enable the Cluster Autoscaler, you edit the manifest for your AWSNodePool. Edit the cluster-0.yaml file and find the AWSNodePool section. Change the values for spec.minNodeCount and spec.maxNodeCount.

    The example below keeps the minimum size of this node pool at 3 nodes, but enables the Cluster Autoscaler to increase its size to 10 nodes.

    kind: AWSNodePool
      name: cluster-0-pool-0
      clusterName: cluster-0
      version: 1.25.5-gke.2100
      minNodeCount: 3
      maxNodeCount: 10
  3. Next, apply the YAML to resize the node pool.

    env HTTPS_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
        kubectl apply -f cluster-0.yaml
  4. The AWSNodePool resource will transition into a Resizing state. When the AWSNodePool completes scaling, it moves to the Provisioned state.

    env HTTPS_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
        kubectl get AWSNodePools

    The output shows that the AWSNodePool is Resizing. Resize operations take several minutes to complete.

    NAME               CLUSTER     STATE     AGE   VERSION
    cluster-0-pool-0   cluster-0   Resizing  3h    1.25.5-gke.2100

Manually creating a new AWSNodePool

You can also scale your cluster by creating new AWSNodePools. When you create a new AWSNodePool, you can also scale up or down instance sizes.

  1. You can retrieve the configuration manifest of an existing AWSNodePool with kubectl get.

    env HTTPS_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
      kubectl get awsnodepool cluster-0-pool-0 -o yaml > new_nodepool.yaml
  2. Edit new_nodepool.yaml and remove the sections that are not present in the following example. Save the file.

    kind: AWSNodePool
      name: NODE_POOL_NAME
      clusterName: AWSCLUSTER_NAME
      version:  CLUSTER_VERSION # latest version is 1.25.5-gke.2100
      region: AWS_REGION
      subnetID: AWS_SUBNET_ID
      minNodeCount: MINIMUM_NODE_COUNT
      maxNodeCount: MAXIMUM_NODE_COUNT
      instanceType: AWS_NODE_TYPE
      keyName: KMS_KEY_PAIR_NAME
      iamInstanceProfile: NODE_IAM_PROFILE
      proxySecretName: PROXY_SECRET_NAME
        sizeGiB: ROOT_VOLUME_SIZE
        volumeType: VOLUME_TYPE # Optional
        iops: IOPS # Optional
        kmsKeyARN: NODE_VOLUME_KEY # Optional 
  3. To create a new AWSNodePool, apply the manifest to your management cluster.

    env HTTPS_PROXY=http://localhost:8118 \
      kubectl apply -f new_nodepool.yaml

What's next

Deploy a service backed by Ingress.

To see additional options, read the reference documentation on AWSNodePool.