Configuring VMs for networking use cases

This page describes special networking configurations of Compute Engine virtual machine (VM) instances, such as the following:

  • Setting up an external HTTP connection to a VM
  • Configuring a VM as a network proxy

Setting up an external HTTP connection to a VM

The default firewall rules do not allow HTTP or HTTPS connections to your instances. However, it is fairly simple to add a rule that does allow them. Note that a VM must have an external (static or ephemeral) IP address before it can receive traffic from outside its Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) network.

You can add a firewall rule to allow HTTP or HTTPS connections using the gcloud command-line tool or the Google Cloud Console. You can also add a firewall rule through the API.


You can use the Cloud Console to create an overall firewall rule for all instances on the VPC network, or you can allow individual instances access to HTTP and HTTPS connections by selecting the respective option when you create that instance. The latter option is described first, because it provides more control over individual instances.

  1. In the Cloud Console, go to the VM Instances page.

    Go to the VM Instances page

  2. Click Create instance.
  3. In the Firewall section, select Allow HTTP traffic and Allow HTTPS traffic.
  4. Click Create to create the instance.

By selecting these checkboxes, the VPC network automatically creates a default-http or default-https rule that applies to all instances with either the http-server or https-server tags. Your new instance is also tagged with the appropriate tag depending your checkbox selection.

If you already have existing default-http and default-https firewall rules, you can apply the firewall rule to existing instances by enabling the Allow HTTP or Allow HTTPS options on the instance's details page.

  1. Go to the VM instances page.
  2. Click the name of the desired instance.
  3. Click Edit button at the top of the page.
  4. Scroll down to the Firewalls section.
  5. Check the Allow HTTP or Allow HTTPS options under your desired VPC network.
  6. Click Save.

In a similar manner, you can also disable external HTTP or HTTPS access for a VM by unchecking one or both checkboxes.

By allowing specific instances to be tagged for HTTP and HTTPS traffic rather than creating an overall firewall rule that applies to all instances, Google Cloud limits the possible security implications of allowing external traffic to all virtual machines in a project. However, if you would like to create a firewall rule that allows HTTP or HTTPS traffic to all virtual machine instances, you can create your own firewall rule:

  1. Go to the VPC networks page.
  2. Select the VPC network where you would to apply the firewall rule.
  3. Under the Firewall rules section, click Add firewall rule.
  4. Name your firewall rule, and add tcp:80 in the Protocols & Ports box, or tcp:443 for HTTPS traffic.
  5. Click Create.
gcloud command-line tool

If you want to allow HTTP and HTTPS traffic to all virtual machines in a project, the following command creates a firewall that allows incoming HTTP and HTTPS requests from anywhere to any instance connected to this VPC network.

gcloud compute firewall-rules create FIREWALL_RULE --allow tcp:80,tcp:443


gcloud compute firewall-rules create sample-http \
 --description "Incoming http and https allowed." \
 --allow tcp:80,tcp:443
gcloud compute firewall-rules describe sample-http
- IPProtocol: tcp
  - '80'
  - '443'
creationTimestamp: '2014-06-13T13:27:12.206-07:00'
id: '5057780722612413546'
kind: compute#firewall
name: sample-http

Configuring a VM as a network proxy

You can design your VPC network so that only one instance has external access, and all other instances in the VPC network use that instance as a proxy server to the outside world. This is useful if you want to control access into or out of your VPC network, or reduce the cost of paying for multiple external IP addresses.

This particular example discusses how to set up a network proxy on VM instances that use a Debian image. It uses a gateway instance as a Squid proxy server but this is only one way of setting up a proxy server.

To set up a Squid proxy server:

  1. Set up one instance with an external (static or ephemeral) IP address. For this example, name your instance gateway-instance.
  2. Set up one or more instances without external IP addresses by specifying gcloud compute instances create ... --no-address. For this example, call this instance hidden-instance.
  3. Learn how to connect from one instance to another because you will not be able to connect directly into your internal-only instances.
  4. Add a firewall to allow tcp traffic on port 3128:

    gcloud compute firewall-rules create [FIREWALL_RULE] --network [NETWORK] --allow tcp:3128
  5. Install Squid on gateway-instance, and configure it to allow access from any machines on the VPC network (valid subnet IP addresses). This assumes that gateway-instance and hidden-instance are both connected to the same VPC network, which enables them to connect to each other.

    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo apt-get install squid3

    Enable any machine on the local network to use the Squid3 server. The following sed commands uncomment and enable the acl localnet src entries in the Squid config files for local networks and machines.

    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(http_access allow localnet\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(http_access deny to_localhost\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(acl localnet src*\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(acl localnet src*\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(acl localnet src*\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(acl localnet src fc00\:\:/7.*\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo sed -i 's:#\(acl localnet src fe80\:\:/10.*\):\1:' /etc/squid/squid.conf
    # Prevent proxy access to metadata server
    user@gateway-instance:~$ sudo tee -a /etc/squid/squid.conf <<'EOF'
    acl to_metadata dst
    http_access deny to_metadata
    # Start Squid
    user@gateway:~$ sudo service squid start
  6. Configure hidden-instance to use gateway-instance as its proxy. Use ssh to connect into hidden-instance and define its proxy URL addresses to point to gateway-instance on port 3128 (the default Squid configuration) as shown here:

    user@gateway-instance:~$ ssh hidden-instance
    user@hidden-instance:~$ sudo -s
    root@hidden-instance:~# echo "export http_proxy=\"http://gateway-instance.$(dnsdomainname):3128\"" >> /etc/profile.d/
    root@hidden-instance:~# echo "export https_proxy=\"http://gateway-instance.$(dnsdomainname):3128\"" >> /etc/profile.d/
    root@hidden-instance:~# echo "export ftp_proxy=\"http://gateway-instance.$(dnsdomainname):3128\"" >> /etc/profile.d/
    root@hidden-instance:~# echo "export no_proxy=,metadata," >> /etc/profile.d/

    Update sudoers to pass these env variables through.

    root@hidden-instance:~# cp /etc/sudoers /tmp/
    root@hidden-instance:~# chmod 640 /tmp/
    root@hidden-instance:~# echo "Defaults env_keep += \"ftp_proxy http_proxy https_proxy no_proxy"\" >>/tmp/
    root@hidden-instance:~# chmod 440 /tmp/
    root@hidden-instance:~# visudo -c -f /tmp/ && cp /tmp/ /etc/sudoers
  7. Exit sudo, load the variables, and run apt-get on hidden-instance. It should now work using gateway as a proxy. If gateway were not serving as a proxy, apt-get would not work because hidden-instance has no direct connection to the Internet.

    root@hidden-instance:~# exit
    user@hidden-instance:~$ source ~/.profile
    user@hidden-instance:~$ sudo apt-get update

Configuring a VM as a VPN gateway

This content has been deprecated and removed. For a managed VPN solution, see the Cloud VPN documentation.

Configuring a VM as a NAT gateway

This content has been deprecated and removed. For a managed NAT solution, see the Cloud NAT documentation.

Building high availability and high bandwidth NAT gateways

This content has been deprecated and removed. For a managed NAT solution, see the Cloud NAT documentation.

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