GKE custom OSS K8s cluster autoscaler

This blog post described how to deploy your own K8s cluster autoscaler instead of the cluster autoscaler that's bundled with GKE. This can be helpful in the rare case that the bundled GKE cluster autoscaler doesn't work for you.

Note that the GKE bundled cluster autoscaler is vastly different from the OSS cluster autoscaler. GKE has done optimizations to make it perform better and scale based on cost. So in general you are strongly recommended to use the bundled GKE cluster autoscaler.


Now you might ask why would I do this instead of just using the bundled GKE cluster autoscaler? The short answer is you shouldn't unless you:


You're stubborn and persistent and still believe you have to do this then let's look at how this can be done.

1. Create a GKE cluster without cluster autoscaler enabled

gcloud container clusters create no-autoscaler \
  --no-enable-autoscaling \
  --region us-central1 --node-locations us-central1-a \
  --cluster-version  1.17.17-gke.2800

2. Deploy the K8s cluster autoscaler using helm

Create a file named values.yaml that contains the config for autoscaler:

  # The name prefix of of the GCE managed instance group
  # this will be different in your case
  - name: gke-no-autoscaler
    minSize: 1
    maxSize: 10

  # the cluster name of the GKE cluster, change to your cluster name
  clusterName: no-autoscaler

cloudProvider: gce
  # Change the image tag version to match the GKE version. So if running
  # GKE 1.17 make sure this version also is 1.17
  tag: v1.17.3

Deploy K8s cluster autoscaler with the just created values.yaml:

helm repo add autoscaler https://kubernetes.github.io/autoscaler
helm install cluster-autoscaler autoscaler/cluster-autoscaler -f values.yaml

You should now have a K8s cluster autoscaler working. Try spinning up many pods with high resource requests and the cluster should automatically add more nodes.