Alpha Clusters

This page provides an overview of Kubernetes alpha features, and how to use them with Kubernetes Engine alpha clusters.


You can experiment with Kubernetes alpha features by creating an alpha cluster. Alpha clusters are short-lived clusters that run stable Kubernetes releases with all Kubernetes APIs and features enabled. Alpha clusters are designed for advanced users and early adopters to experiment with workloads that take advantage of new features before those features are production-ready. You can use Alpha clusters just like normal Kubernetes Engine clusters.

Alpha clusters run the current default version of Kubernetes. You can run a non-default Kubernetes version by specifying a version at the time of creation. To learn which Kubernetes versions are available, refer to Versioning and Upgrades and Release Notes, or run gcloud container get-server-config.

Alpha clusters have the following limitations:

  • Alpha clusters are not covered by the Kubernetes Engine SLA
  • Alpha clusters cannot be upgraded
  • Alpha clusters are automatically deleted after 30 days

Creating an alpha cluster


  1. Visit the Kubernetes Engine menu in GCP Console.

    Visit the Kubernetes Engine menu

  2. Click Create cluster.

  3. Configure your cluster as desired. Then, select Enable Kubernetes alpha features in this cluster.
  4. Acknowledge the warning by selecting I understand the consequences.
  5. Click Create.


To create an alpha cluster, run the following command:

gcloud container clusters create [CLUSTER_NAME] \
    --enable-kubernetes-alpha [--zone [COMPUTE_ZONE]]

where [CLUSTER_NAME] is the name you choose for the cluster and [COMPUTE_ZONE] is the Compute Engine compute zone in which to create the cluster. The optional --zone flag overrides the default compute/zone property set by gcloud config set compute/zone.

You are prompted to acknowledge a warning that the Alpha Cluster is not upgraded and is deleted after 30 days:

This will create a cluster with all Kubernetes Alpha features enabled.
- This cluster will not be covered by the Kubernetes Engine SLA and should
  not be used for production workloads.
- You will not be able to upgrade the master or nodes.
- The cluster will be deleted after 30 days.

After you have acknowledged the warning, run the following command to get authentication credentials for the cluster:

gcloud container clusters get-credentials [CLUSTER-NAME]

Ensure that your data is migrated from Alpha Clusters before they expire. To check when your Alpha Clusters expire, run:

gcloud container clusters list

Running a specific Kubernetes version

Unless otherwise specified, alpha clusters run the current default version of Kubernetes. When you create an alpha cluster using the gcloud command-line tool, you can run a specific version with the --cluster-version flag:

To create an alpha cluster with a specific version, run the following command:

gcloud container clusters create [CLUSTER_NAME] \
    --enable-kubernetes-alpha --cluster-version [CLUSTER-VERSION] \
    [--zone [COMPUTE_ZONE]]

Refer to Versioning and Upgrades to see which versions are available and how to specify the --cluster-version option.

Latest Kubernetes alpha features

Most Kubernetes releases contain new Alpha features that you can test in alpha clusters. For a full list of Kubernetes releases and the features they include, refer to the Kubernetes changelog.

About feature stages

New Kubernetes features are introduced in four stages: early development, alpha, beta, and stable.

To ensure stability and production quality, normal Kubernetes Engine clusters only enable features that are beta or higher. Alpha features are not enabled on normal clusters because they are not production-ready or upgradeable.

Since Kubernetes Engine automatically upgrades the Kubernetes control plane, enabling alpha features in production could jeopardize the reliability of the cluster if there are breaking changes in a new version.

To learn more about the stages of Kubernetes features, refer to Alpha, Beta, and Stable Versions in the Kubernetes documentation.

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