Creating an alpha cluster

This page shows you how to create an Google Kubernetes Engine alpha cluster, which is a cluster with Kubernetes alpha features enabled in Google Kubernetes Engine. You can also read more about the types of clusters and about cluster architecture.

Before you begin

Before you start, make sure you have performed the following tasks:

Set up default gcloud settings using one of the following methods:

  • Using gcloud init, if you want to be walked through setting defaults.
  • Using gcloud config, to individually set your project ID, zone, and region.

Using gcloud init

  1. Run gcloud init and follow the directions:

    gcloud init

    If you are using SSH on a remote server, use the --console-only flag to prevent the command from launching a browser:

    gcloud init --console-only
  2. Follow the instructions to authorize gcloud to use your Google Cloud account.
  3. Create a new configuration or select an existing one.
  4. Choose a Google Cloud project.
  5. Choose a default Compute Engine zone.

Using gcloud config

  • Set your default project ID:
    gcloud config set project project-id
  • If you are working with zonal clusters, set your default compute zone:
    gcloud config set compute/zone compute-zone
  • If you are working with regional clusters, set your default compute region:
    gcloud config set compute/region compute-region
  • Update gcloud to the latest version:
    gcloud components update

Creating an alpha cluster

You can create an alpha cluster using gcloud or the Google Cloud Console.


To create an alpha cluster, run the following command:

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


  • [CLUSTER_NAME] is the name you choose for the cluster
  • [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. Note: Your default compute zone must be set using gcloud config set compute/zone [COMPUTE_ZONE] or specified using --zone.
  • [VERSION] is the GKE version to run in the cluster. If unset, the cluster runs the current default version documented in Versioning and Upgrades.

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 GKE 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.


To create an alpha cluster, perform the following steps:

  1. Visit the Google Kubernetes Engine menu in Cloud Console.

    Visit the Google Kubernetes Engine menu

  2. Click Create cluster.

  3. Choose the Standard cluster template or choose an appropriate template for your workload.

  4. From the Cluster Version drop-down menu, select the desired GKE version to run in the cluster.

  5. Configure your cluster as desired.

  6. Click Advanced options. Near the bottom of the page, select Enable Kubernetes alpha features in this cluster.

  7. Read and acknowledge the warning by selecting I understand the consequences.

  8. Click Create.

After you create a cluster, you need to configure kubectl before you can interact with the cluster from the command line.

Check when an alpha cluster expires

To check when alpha clusters expire, run the following command:

gcloud container clusters list

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