Deploy containers (GKE, GKE clusters)

This page explains how to deploy a container image to a Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) cluster or an GKE cluster where Binary Authorization is enabled. The kubectl commands you use to deploy the image are the same as the ones you use to deploy images to clusters that do not use Binary Authorization.

Before you begin

Make sure you have the Binary Authorization API enabled in your project and a GKE cluster with Binary Authorization enabled. See setting up on Google Kubernetes Engine or setting up on GKE clusters.

Install kubectl for interacting with GKE.

Configure kubectl

You must update the local kubeconfig file for your kubectl installation. This provides the credentials and endpoint information required to access the cluster in GKE or GKE clusters.

To configure kubectl, run the following gcloud command:


gcloud container clusters get-credentials \
    --zone ZONE \

Replace the following:

  • ZONE: the name of the GKE zone where the cluster is running, for example, us-central1-a
  • CLUSTER_NAME: the name of the cluster

GKE clusters

gcloud container fleet memberships get-credentials \
    --location LOCATION \

Replace the following:

  • LOCATION: the location of the fleet membership of the GKE cluster, for example, global
  • MEMBERSHIP_NAME: the name of the fleet membership of the GKE cluster

Deploy the container image

Deploy your container image as follows:

  1. Configure environment variables:


    Replace the following:

    • POD_NAME: the name you want to use for the GKE workload
    • IMAGE_PATH: path of the image in Artifact Registry, Container Registry, or another registry.
    • IMAGE_DIGEST: the digest of the image manifest. Examples are as follows:

      • Artifact Registry:
        • Path:
        • Digest: sha256:37e5287945774f27b418ce567cd77f4bbc9ef44a1bcd1a2312369f31f9cce567
      • Container Registry:
        • Path:
        • Digest: sha256:c62ead5b8c15c231f9e786250b07909daf6c266d0fcddd93fea882eb722c3be4

      To learn how to get the digest of an image in Artifact Registry, see Managing images; for an image in Container Registry, see Listing the versions of an image.

  2. Deploy your image using the kubectl run command.

    You must deploy the image using the digest rather than a tag like 1.0 or latest, as Binary Authorization uses both the image path and digest to look up attestations.

    To deploy the image, run the following kubectl command:

    kubectl run ${POD_NAME} \
        --image ${IMAGE_PATH}@${IMAGE_DIGEST}

    Now, verify that the deployment was blocked by Binary Authorization:

    kubectl get pods

    You see your Pod listed.

Fail open

The enforcement process fails open if GKE or GKE clusters is unable to reach the Binary Authorization server for any reason. For example, if you deploy a container image and the Binary Authorization enforcer is unreachable due to a network outage, the image is deployed, even though the enforcer would have blocked it. If Cloud Audit Logs is enabled, the log entry indicates the image deployed with a fail open condition.

Deploy images that violate the policy

Binary Authorization supports a feature known as breakglass that allows an image to be deployed, even if it violates the policy.

For more information, see Using breakglass

Clean up

To clean up, delete the Pod by executing the following command:

  kubectl delete pod ${POD_NAME}

What's next