Creating an alpha cluster

This page shows you how to create a Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) alpha cluster, which is a cluster with Kubernetes alpha features enabled in GKE. You can also read more about cluster configuration choices and about cluster architecture.

Before you begin

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

  • Enable the Google Kubernetes Engine API.
  • Enable Google Kubernetes Engine API
  • If you want to use the Google Cloud CLI for this task, install and then initialize the gcloud CLI. If you previously installed the gcloud CLI, get the latest version by running gcloud components update.

Create an alpha cluster

You can create an alpha cluster by using the gcloud CLI or the Google Cloud console.


Run the following command:

gcloud container clusters create CLUSTER_NAME \
    --enable-kubernetes-alpha \
    --no-enable-autorepair \
    --no-enable-autoupgrade \
    --region COMPUTE_REGION

Replace the following:

  • CLUSTER_NAME: the name you choose for the cluster.
  • COMPUTE_REGION: the Compute Engine region for the cluster. For zonal clusters, use the --zone COMPUTE_ZONE option.
  • --cluster-version VERSION: (optional) specifies the GKE version to run in the cluster. If omitted, the cluster runs the current default version documented in Versioning and upgrades.

You can optionally use the flag to specify a different IAM service account that nodes in your cluster's first node pool uses instead of the Compute Engine default service account. This flag is optional, but we strongly recommend that you create and use a minimally-privileged service account so that your nodes don't have more privileges that they require.

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.


  1. Go to the Google Kubernetes Engine page in the Google Cloud console.

    Go to Google Kubernetes Engine

  2. Click Create.

  3. In the Cluster basics section, complete the following:

    1. Enter the Name for your cluster.
    2. For the Location type, select Zonal, and then select the zone for your cluster.
    3. If you are creating a multi-zonal cluster, select the Specify default node locations checkbox, and then choose additional zones in which you'd like the node pools to run.
    4. From the Release channel drop-down list, select No channel.

    5. Optional: Specify a control plane version from the Version drop-down list.

  4. Optional (available with GKE Enterprise): If you want to register your new cluster to a fleet, go to the Fleet registration section, and follow the Google Cloud console instructions for Create and register a new cluster to complete your cluster registration.

  5. From the navigation pane, under Node Pools, click default-pool.

  6. In the Node pool details section, complete the following:

    1. Enter a Name for the default Node pool.
    2. Optional: Choose the Node version.
    3. Enter the Number of nodes to create in the cluster. You must have available resource quota for the nodes and their resources (such as firewall routes).
    4. Optional: You can choose to disable node auto-upgrades, however we recommend that you review the considerations before disabling node auto-upgrades before choosing this option.
    5. Clear Enable auto-upgrade and Enable auto-repair.
  7. From the navigation pane, under Node Pools, click Nodes.

  8. From the Image type drop-down list, select the node image.

  9. Choose the default Machine configuration to use for the instances. Each machine type is billed differently. The default machine type is e2-medium. For machine type pricing information, refer to the machine type price sheet.

  10. From the Boot disk type drop-down list, select the disk type.

  11. Enter the Boot disk size.

  12. Optional: From the navigation pane, under Node Pools, click Security.

  13. Optional: From the Service account drop-down list, select an Identity and Access Management (IAM) service account for your applications to use when calling Google Cloud APIs. We recommend that you use a minimally privileged service account instead of using the default service account, so that your nodes don't have more privileges that they require.

  14. From the navigation pane, under Cluster, click Features.

  15. Click Enable Kubernetes alpha features in this cluster.

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

  17. Click Create.

Interact with a cluster using kubectl

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

What's next