Using Google Container Engine

Deploy > Using Google Container Engine

In order to use Google Cloud, you will need to ensure that the Google Cloud SDK is installed on your primary container as described in the following sections:


This document makes the following assumptions:

  1. You have a working knowledge of Docker and building Docker images.
  2. You already have a GCP project registered. Keep the project name handy.
  3. A Container Engine cluster has already been created in your GCP project. Keep the cluster name handy.
  4. Your repository has already been configured as a CircleCI 2.0 project.

Selecting a Base Image

If Debian is acceptable as a base for your custom primary container, Google’s google/cloud-sdk image can be a good base image to use.

For those with more complicated custom primary containers, follow the installation instructions for the operating system of your base image.

Setting Up Authentication

Generating a Service Account Key

After the Google Cloud SDK has been integrated into your primary container (see above), authentication can be achieved with the use of a service account. Ensure that you follow the Google Cloud documentation for generating a service account, or create a new key for an existing service account, saving the credentials as a JSON key.

Paste this into a new environment variable’s “Value” field, using the name GOOGLE_AUTH. Using this particular name is not required, but will be used throughout the examples in this document.

Next, simply set up three more environment variables for convenience:

  • GOOGLE_PROJECT_ID: the ID of your GCP project
  • GOOGLE_CLUSTER_NAME: the cluster to which deployments will occur
  • GOOGLE_COMPUTE_ZONE: which compute zone to use by default, e.g. us-central1-a

Setting Up a Job Step to Decode Credentials

Once the GOOGLE_AUTH environment variable has been saved to your project, it will be readily available for use in the steps of your job’s primary container.


  - image:
    #Put the contents of keyfile.json into an environment variable for the build called GCR_CREDS, which is then passed in.
      username: _json_key
      password: $GOOGLE_AUTH 
  - steps:
     # ...
     - run:
       name: Dump Google Cloud Credentials to file
       command: echo ${GOOGLE_AUTH} > ${HOME}/gcp-key.json
     # ...  

Configuring gcloud

As part of your deployment commands, configure gcloud to use the newly-configured service account and set up the appropriate defaults:

gcloud auth activate-service-account --key-file ${HOME}/gcp-key.json
gcloud --quiet config set project ${GOOGLE_PROJECT_ID}
gcloud --quiet config set compute/zone ${GOOGLE_COMPUTE_ZONE}
gcloud --quiet container clusters get-credentials ${GOOGLE_CLUSTER_NAME}