Alpha clusters

This page provides an overview of Kubernetes alpha features, and explains how alpha clusters work in Google Kubernetes Engine. To learn how to create an alpha cluster, refer to Creating a Cluster.


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 GKE 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 [GKE SLA]
  • Alpha clusters cannot be upgraded
  • Alpha clusters are automatically deleted after 30 days
  • Alpha clusters do not receive security updates

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 GKE 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 GKE 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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