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Save greenbacks on Google Container Engine using autoscaling and preemptible VMs

There is an awesome new feature on Google Container Engine (GKE) that lets you combine autoscaling, node pools and preemptible VMs to save big $!


The basic idea is to create a small cluster with an inexpensive VM type that will run 7x24. This primary node can be used for critical services that should not be rescheduled to another pod. A good example would be a Jenkins master server. Here is an example of how to create the cluster:

gcloud alpha container clusters create $CLUSTER \ --network "default" --num-nodes 1 \ --machine-type ${small} --zone $ZONE \ --disk-size 50
Now here is the money saver trick:  A second node pool is added to the cluster. This node pool is configured to auto-scale from one node up to a maximum. This additional node pool uses preemptible VMs. These are VMs that can be taken away at any time if Google needs the capacity, but in exchange you get dirt cheap images. For example, running a 4 core VM with 15GB of RAM for a month comes in under $30.