Anthos Service Mesh 1.5 has reached end of life and is no longer supported. See Upgrading from earlier versions.

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Installing Anthos Service Mesh on a new cluster using the Anthos CLI

This guide explains how to install Anthos Service Mesh 1.5.10-asm.2 on a new Google Cloud GKE cluster using the Anthos command-line interface (CLI).

The installation enables the following features:

This guide also explains how to register your cluster in the fleet that is in the same Google Cloud project as the cluster. A fleet lets you organize clusters to make multi-cluster management easier. By registering your clusters in a fleet, you can group services and other infrastructure as needed to apply consistent policies.

Currently, the Anthos CLI doesn't support installations on Anthos clusters on VMware. To install Anthos Service Mesh on Anthos clusters on VMware, refer to Installing Anthos Service Mesh on premises.

Before you begin

This guide assumes that you already have the following:

Before you start the installation:


  • You must have an Anthos trial license or subscription. See the Anthos Pricing guide for details.

  • Your GKE cluster must meet the following requirements:

    • At least four nodes.
    • The minimum machine type is e2-standard-4, which has four vCPUs.
    • Use a release channel rather than a static version of GKE
  • To be included in the service mesh, service ports must be named, and the name must include the port's protocol in the following syntax: name: protocol[-suffix] where the square brackets indicate an optional suffix that must start with a dash. For more information, Naming service ports.

  • If you are installing Anthos Service Mesh on a private cluster, you must add a firewall rule to open port 15017 if you want to use automatic sidecar injection. If you don't add the firewall rule and automatic sidecar injection is enabled, you get an error when you deploy workloads. For details on adding a firewall rule, see Adding firewall rules for specific use cases.

  • If you have created a service perimeter in your organization, you might need to add the Mesh CA service to the perimeter. See Adding Mesh CA to a service perimeter for more information.


Only one installation of Anthos Service Mesh per Google Cloud project is supported. Multiple mesh deployments in a single project aren't supported.

Certificate data

Certificates from Mesh CA include the following data about your application's services:

  • The Google Cloud project ID
  • The GKE namespace
  • The GKE service account name

Setting project and cluster defaults

  1. Get the project ID of the project that the cluster will be created in:


    gcloud projects list


    1. In the console, go to the Dashboard page:

      Go to the Dashboard page

    2. Click the Select from drop-down list at the top of the page. In the Select from window that appears, select your project. The project ID is displayed on the project Dashboard Project info card.

  2. Create an environment variable for the project ID:

  3. Set the default project ID for the Google Cloud CLI:

    gcloud config set project ${PROJECT_ID}
  4. Select a zone or region for the cluster.

    • If you will be creating a single-zone cluster, run the following command to get a list of the available GCP zones:

      gcloud compute zones list
    • If you will be creating a regional cluster, run the following command to get a list of the available regions:

      gcloud compute regions list
  5. Create the following environment variables:

    • Set the cluster name:


      The cluster name must contain only lowercase alphanumerics and '-', must start with a letter and end with an alphanumeric, and must be no longer than 40 characters.

    • Set the CLUSTER_LOCATION to either your cluster zone or cluster region:

  6. Set the default zone or region for the Google Cloud CLI.

    • For a single-zone cluster, set the default zone:

      gcloud config set compute/zone ${CLUSTER_LOCATION}
    • For a regional cluster, set the default region:

      gcloud config set compute/region ${CLUSTER_LOCATION}

Preparing resource configuration files

  1. Optionally, create a new directory for the Anthos Service Mesh package resource configuration files. If you plan to set up more than one cluster, you might want to use the cluster name as the directory name.

  2. Change to the directory where you want to download the Anthos Service Mesh package.

  3. Download the Anthos Service Mesh package to the current working directory:

    kpt pkg get \ .
  4. Set the cluster name:

      kpt cfg set asm gcloud.container.cluster ${CLUSTER_NAME}

  5. Optionally, customize the resource configuration files by using the kpt setters. By default, these setters use the defaults for gcloud config. If you set the gcloud config defaults, or if you want to change the values, run the following setters:

    • Set the project ID:

      kpt cfg set asm gcloud.core.project ${PROJECT_ID}
    • Set the default zone or region:

      kpt cfg set asm gcloud.compute.location ${CLUSTER_LOCATION}
  6. Optionally, you can check in the resource configuration files to your own source control system, such as Cloud Source Repositories, so that you can track changes to the files.

Setting optional values

With the Anthos CLI you can set other values as well. To see a list of the available setters:

kpt cfg list-setters asm/

The output is similar to the following:

          NAME                            VALUE                SET BY   DESCRIPTION   COUNT
anthos.servicemesh.hub                    your_anthos_hub                               1
anthos.servicemesh.tag                    your_anthos_tag                               1
gcloud.compute.location                   your_zone_or_region                           8                    default                                       1
gcloud.compute.subnetwork                 default                                       1
gcloud.container.cluster                  your_cluster_name                             9
gcloud.container.cluster.releaseChannel   REGULAR                                       1
gcloud.container.nodepool.max-nodes       4                                             1
gcloud.core.project                       your_project_ID      kpt                     21
gcloud.project.projectNumber              your_project_number  kpt                      4 

For example, to change the release channel from the default, REGULAR, replace YOUR_CHANNEL with either STABLE or RAPID in the following command:

kpt cfg set asm gcloud.container.cluster.releaseChannel YOUR_CHANNEL

For a description of each channel, see What channels are available.

Change the machine type or number of nodes

The Anthos CLI creates a new cluster with the required number of nodes and machine type required by Anthos Service Mesh. These values are specified in nodepool.yaml. You can modify your local copy of nodepool.yaml to specify another machine type as long as it has at least 4 vCPUs.

You can increase the number of nodes as needed for your system requirements with the following setter:

kpt cfg set asm gcloud.container.nodepool.max-nodes NUMBER_OF_NODES

Installing Anthos Service Mesh on a new cluster

The Anthos CLI enables the follow options on the cluster, which are required by Anthos Service Mesh:

  • Adds a mesh_id label to the cluster in the format proj-PROJECT_NUMBER, where PROJECT_NUMBER is the project number of the project that the cluster will be created in. The mesh_id label is required for metrics to get displayed on the Anthos Service Mesh dashboard in the console. If your cluster has existing labels, the Anthos CLI preserves them.

  • Enables Workload Identity.

  • Enables Kubernetes Engine Monitoring.

  • Enrolls the cluster in a release channel overview.

Run the following command to create a new cluster and install Anthos Service Mesh using the Anthos Service Mesh configuration files that you customized previously:

gcloud beta anthos apply asm

Checking the control plane components

Check that the control plane pods in istio-system are up:

kubectl get pod -n istio-system

Expected output is similar to the following:

NAME                                      READY   STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
istio-ingressgateway-74cc894bfd-786rg     1/1     Running     0          7m19s
istiod-78cdbbbdb-d7tps                    1/1     Running     0          7m36s
promsd-576b8db4d6-lqf64                   2/2     Running     1          7m19s

Registering your cluster

You must register your cluster with the project's fleet to gain access to the unified user interface in the console. A fleet provides a unified way to view and manage the clusters and their workloads, including clusters outside Google Cloud.

Create a Google Cloud service account and key file

A JSON file containing service account credentials is required to register a cluster. To follow the principle of least privilege, we recommend that you create a distinct service account for each cluster that you register.

To create a service account and key file:

  1. Select a name for the service account and create an environment variable for it:

  2. Create the service account:

    gcloud iam service-accounts create ${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}
  3. List all of a project's service accounts to confirm the service account was created:

    gcloud iam service-accounts list
  4. Bind the gkehub.connect IAM role to the service account:

    gcloud projects add-iam-policy-binding ${PROJECT_ID} \
       --member="serviceAccount:${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}@${PROJECT_ID}" \
  5. Create an environment variable for the local filepath where you want to save the JSON file. We recommend that you name the file using the service account name and your project ID, such as: /tmp/creds/${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_NAME}-${PROJECT_ID}.json

  6. Download the service account's private key JSON file:

    gcloud iam service-accounts keys create ${SERVICE_ACCOUNT_KEY_PATH} \

Register the cluster

In the following command, replace MEMBERSHIP_NAME with a name that uniquely represents the cluster being registered on the Hub.

gcloud container hub memberships register MEMBERSHIP_NAME \
    --gke-cluster=${CLUSTER_LOCATION}/${CLUSTER_NAME} \

The command responds with output similar to the following:

kubeconfig entry generated for CLUSTER_NAME.
Waiting for membership to be created...done.
Created a new membership [projects/PROJECT_ID/locations/global/memberships/MEMBERSHIP_NAME] for the cluster [MEMBERSHIP_NAME]
Generating the Connect Agent manifest...
Deploying the Connect Agent on cluster [MEMBERSHIP_NAME] in namespace [gke-connect]...
Deployed the Connect Agent on cluster [MEMBERSHIP_NAME] in namespace [gke-connect].
Finished registering the cluster [MEMBERSHIP_NAME] with the Hub.

This service account key is stored as a secret named creds-gcp in the gke-connect namespace.

For more information about cluster registration, see Registering a cluster in the Connect documentation.

Injecting sidecar proxies

Anthos Service Mesh uses sidecar proxies to enhance network security, reliability, and observability. With Anthos Service Mesh, these functions are abstracted away from the application's primary container and implemented in a common out-of-process proxy delivered as a separate container in the same Pod.

Before you deploy workloads, make sure to configure sidecar proxy injection so that Anthos Service Mesh can monitor and secure traffic.

You can enable automatic sidecar injection with one command, for example:

kubectl label namespace NAMESPACE istio-injection=enabled --overwrite

where NAMESPACE is the name of the namespace for your application's services or default if you didn't explicitly create a namespace.

For more information, see Injecting sidecar proxies.

Viewing the Anthos Service Mesh pages

After you have workloads deployed on your cluster with the sidecar proxies injected, you can explore the Anthos Service Mesh pages in the console to see all of the observability features that Anthos Service Mesh offers. Note that it takes about one or two minutes for telemetry data to be displayed in the console after you deploy workloads.

Access to Anthos Service Mesh in the console is controlled by Identity and Access Management (IAM). To access the Anthos Service Mesh pages, a Project Owner must grant users the Project Editor or Viewer role, or the more restrictive roles described in Controlling access to Anthos Service Mesh in the console.

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to Anthos Service Mesh.

    Go to Anthos Service Mesh

  2. Select the Cloud project from the drop-down list on the menu bar.

  3. If you have more than one service mesh, select the mesh from the Service Mesh drop-down list.

To learn more, see Exploring Anthos Service Mesh in the console.

In addition to the Anthos Service Mesh pages, metrics related to your services (such as the number of requests received by a particular service) are sent to Cloud Monitoring, where they appear in the Metrics Explorer.

To view metrics:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Monitoring page:

    Go to Monitoring

  2. Select Resources > Metrics Explorer.

For a full list of metrics, see Istio metrics in the Cloud Monitoring documentation.

Installing a sample using kpt

Optionally, you can use kpt to install the Hipster sample into the cluster.

  1. Download the sample:

    kpt pkg get \ \
  2. Enable automatic sidecar injection:

    kubectl label namespace default istio-injection=enabled
  3. Deploy the sample to the cluster:

    kubectl apply -f hipster-demo
  4. Find the external IP address of your application:

    kubectl get service frontend-external
  5. Visit the application on your browser to confirm installation:


    Now that you have a sample running, you can explore the Anthos Service Mesh observability features in the console. Note that it can take up to 10 minutes for the topology graph to display the services in your mesh.

When you're finished exploring, remove the Hipster sample:

kubectl delete -f hipster-demo

What's next