Connecting GitLab with a Kubernetes cluster

Introduced in GitLab 10.1.

NOTE: Note: The Cluster integration will eventually supersede the Kubernetes integration.

With a cluster associated to your project, you can use Review Apps, deploy your applications, run your pipelines, and much more, in an easy way.

Connect your project to Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) or an existing Kubernetes cluster in a few steps.


In order to be able to manage your Kubernetes cluster through GitLab, the following prerequisites must be met.

For a cluster hosted on GKE:

  • The Google authentication integration must be enabled in GitLab at the instance level. If that's not the case, ask your GitLab administrator to enable it.
  • Your associated Google account must have the right privileges to manage clusters on GKE. That would mean that a billing account must be set up and that you have to have permissions to access it.
  • You must have Master permissions in order to be able to access the Cluster page.
  • You must have Cloud Billing API enabled
  • You must have Resource Manager API

For an existing Kubernetes cluster:

  • Since the cluster is already created, there are no prerequisites.

If all of the above requirements are met, you can proceed to add a new Kubernetes cluster.

Adding a Kubernetes cluster

NOTE: Note: You need Master permissions and above to access the Clusters page.

There are two options when adding a new cluster to your project; either associate your account with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) so that you can create new clusters from within GitLab, or provide the credentials to an existing Kubernetes cluster.

Before proceeding to either method, make sure all prerequisites are met.

To add a new cluster hosted on GKE to your project:

  1. Navigate to your project's CI/CD > Clusters page.
  2. Click on Add cluster.
  3. Click on Create with GKE.
  4. Connect your Google account if you haven't done already by clicking the Sign in with Google button.
  5. Fill in the requested values:
    • Cluster name (required) - The name you wish to give the cluster.
    • GCP project ID (required) - The ID of the project you created in your GCP console that will host the Kubernetes cluster. This must not be confused with the project name. Learn more about Google Cloud Platform projects.
    • Zone - The zone under which the cluster will be created.
    • Number of nodes - The number of nodes you wish the cluster to have.
    • Machine type - The machine type of the Virtual Machine instance that the cluster will be based on.
    • Project namespace - The unique namespace for this project. By default you don't have to fill it in; by leaving it blank, GitLab will create one for you.
    • Environment scope - The associated environment to this cluster.
  6. Finally, click the Create cluster button.

To add an existing cluster to your project:

  1. Navigate to your project's CI/CD > Clusters page.
  2. Click on Add cluster.
  3. Click on Add an existing cluster and fill in the details as described in the Kubernetes integration documentation.
  4. Select the environment scope.
  5. Finally, click the Create cluster button.

After a few moments, your cluster should be created. If something goes wrong, you will be notified.

You can now proceed to install some pre-defined applications and then enable the Cluster integration.

Installing applications

GitLab provides a one-click install for various applications which will be added directly to your configured cluster. Those applications are needed for Review Apps and deployments.

Application GitLab version Description
Helm Tiller 10.2+ Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes and is required to install all the other applications. It will be automatically installed as a dependency when you try to install a different app. It is installed in its own pod inside the cluster which can run the helm CLI in a safe environment.
Ingress 10.2+ Ingress can provide load balancing, SSL termination, and name-based virtual hosting. It acts as a web proxy for your applications and is useful if you want to use Auto DevOps or deploy your own web apps.
Prometheus 10.4+ Prometheus is an open-source monitoring and alerting system useful to supervise your deployed applications

Enabling or disabling the Cluster integration

After you have successfully added your cluster information, you can enable the Cluster integration:

  1. Click the "Enabled/Disabled" switch
  2. Hit Save for the changes to take effect

You can now start using your Kubernetes cluster for your deployments.

To disable the Cluster integration, follow the same procedure.

Removing the Cluster integration

NOTE: Note: You need Master permissions and above to remove a cluster integration.

NOTE: Note: When you remove a cluster, you only remove its relation to GitLab, not the cluster itself. To remove the cluster, you can do so by visiting the GKE dashboard or using kubectl.

To remove the Cluster integration from your project, simply click on the Remove integration button. You will then be able to follow the procedure and add a cluster again.

Multiple Kubernetes clusters

Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition Premium 10.3.

With GitLab EEP, you can associate more than one Kubernetes clusters to your project. That way you can have different clusters for different environments, like dev, staging, production, etc.

To add another cluster, follow the same steps as described in adding a Kubernetes cluster and make sure to set an environment scope that will differentiate the new cluster with the rest.

Setting the environment scope

When adding more than one clusters, you need to differentiate them with an environment scope. The environment scope associates clusters and environments in an 1:1 relationship similar to how the environment-specific variables work.

The default environment scope is *, which means all jobs, regardless of their environment, will use that cluster. Each scope can only be used by a single cluster in a project, and a validation error will occur if otherwise.

For example, let's say the following clusters exist in a project:

Cluster Environment scope
Development *
Staging staging/*
Production production/*

And the following environments are set in .gitlab-ci.yml:

- test
- deploy

  stage: test
  script: sh test

deploy to staging:
  stage: deploy
  script: make deploy
    name: staging/$CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME

deploy to production:
  stage: deploy
  script: make deploy
    name: production/$CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME

The result will then be:

  • The development cluster will be used for the "test" job.
  • The staging cluster will be used for the "deploy to staging" job.
  • The production cluster will be used for the "deploy to production" job.