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.

This second pool is perfect for containers that can survive a restart or migration to a new node. Jenkins slaves would be a good candidate.

Here is an example of adding the node pool to the cluster you created above:

gcloud alpha container node-pools create $NODEPOOL --cluster $CLUSTER --zone $ZONE \
    --machine-type ${medium} --preemptible --disk-size 50 \
    --enable-autoscaling --min-nodes=1 --max-nodes=4

That node pool will scale down to a single VM if the cluster is not busy, and scale up to a maximum of 4 nodes.

If your VM gets preempted (and it will at least once every 24 hours),  the pods running on that node will be rescheduled onto a new node created by the auto-scaler.

Container engine assigns a label to nodes which you can use for scheduling. For example, to ensure you Jenkins Master does not get put on a preemptible node, you can add the following annotation to your Pod Spec:

apiVersion: v1kind: Podspec:  nodeSelector:    !cloud.google.com/gke-preemptible

apiVersion: v1kind: Podspec:  nodeSelector:    !cloud.google.com/gke-preemptible
nodeSelector:    !cloud.google.com/gke-preemptible

See https://cloud.google.com/container-engine/docs/preemptible-vm for the details.


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