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Version: v2.7

Rancher GCP Quick Start Guide

The following steps will quickly deploy a Rancher server on GCP in a single-node K3s Kubernetes cluster, with a single-node downstream Kubernetes cluster attached.


The intent of these guides is to quickly launch a sandbox that you can use to evaluate Rancher. These guides are not intended for production environments. For comprehensive setup instructions, see Installation.



Deploying to Google GCP will incur charges.

  • Google GCP Account: A Google GCP Account is required to create resources for deploying Rancher and Kubernetes.
  • Google GCP Project: Use this link to follow a tutorial to create a GCP Project if you don't have one yet.
  • Google GCP Service Account: Use this link and follow instructions to create a GCP service account and token file.
  • Terraform: Used to provision the server and cluster in Google GCP.

Getting Started

  1. Clone Rancher Quickstart to a folder using git clone

  2. Go into the GCP folder containing the Terraform files by executing cd quickstart/rancher/gcp.

  3. Rename the terraform.tfvars.example file to terraform.tfvars.

  4. Edit terraform.tfvars and customize the following variables:

    • gcp_account_json - GCP service account file path and file name
    • rancher_server_admin_password - Admin password for created Rancher server. See Setting up the Bootstrap Password for password requirments.
  5. Optional: Modify optional variables within terraform.tfvars. See the Quickstart Readme and the GCP Quickstart Readme for more information. Suggestions include:

    • gcp_region - Google GCP region, choose the closest instead of the default (us-east4)
    • gcp_zone - Google GCP zone, choose the closest instead of the default (us-east4-a)
    • prefix - Prefix for all created resources
    • machine_type - Compute instance size used, minimum is n1-standard-1 but n1-standard-2 or n1-standard-4 could be used if within budget
  6. Run terraform init.

  7. To initiate the creation of the environment, run terraform apply --auto-approve. Then wait for output similar to the following:

    Apply complete! Resources: 16 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


    rancher_node_ip = xx.xx.xx.xx
    rancher_server_url =
    workload_node_ip = yy.yy.yy.yy
  8. Paste the rancher_server_url from the output above into the browser. Log in when prompted (default username is admin, use the password set in rancher_server_admin_password).

  9. ssh to the Rancher Server using the id_rsa key generated in quickstart/rancher/gcp.


Two Kubernetes clusters are deployed into your GCP account, one running Rancher Server and the other ready for experimentation deployments. Please note that while this setup is a great way to explore Rancher functionality, a production setup should follow our high availability setup guidelines. SSH keys for the VMs are auto-generated and stored in the module directory.

What's Next?

Use Rancher to create a deployment. For more information, see Creating Deployments.

Destroying the Environment

  1. From the quickstart/rancher/gcp folder, execute terraform destroy --auto-approve.

  2. Wait for confirmation that all resources have been destroyed.