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Hello, and welcome back to another post by yours truly. Recently there has been a little change in my life, I got a new job, and with the new job came a career pivot. Where I was an AWS consultant, I am now a data engineer, working exclusively with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for a great little company called Datisan. Data engineering is not new to me, a few of my previous clients wanted data lakes and ingestion pipelines setup on AWS, however the GCP side of things was brand new to me.

The focus of this post is going to be getting started with deployment manager (DM), GCP’s infrastructure as code (IAC) service. WIth the aim of hopefully enabling you avoid some of the pitfalls I fell into.

Rather than re-hash information that is already publicly available I thought I would link you to some of the GCP documentation so you can get a better handle on the foundational concepts:

So after sending you towards the official documentation, the first thing about DM you should know, is that the documentation is poor, really poor. Compared to the rich eco-system of documentation, developer forums, and guides provided for CloudFormation (AWS’s IAC solution) the GCP counterpart seems.. somewhat lacking. Which is actually what inspired this post. Without futher adue we can jump straight into my top tips.

1 - Python over jinja

Deployment manager templates have to be written in one of two languages, jinja or Python, my advice to you. Don’t bother with jinja. I started with jinja, coming from a YAML centric AWS background, I thought jinja would be the easiest to get started with, oh boy was I wrong. Python gives you “orders of magnitude” more control over your infrastructure/deployments, with the added abilities to import any library you choose, create helper-functions and most importantly, Python has the most significant source of examples on the internet and questions on StackOverflow. If you try to search for jinja detailed examples, you are going to have a tough time finding anything relevant. Python is broadly supported and also easy to get started with; for this reason, it is my pick out of the two deployment manager languages.

2 - Understand YAML’s role in your stack

Any deployment built with DM consists of two types of files, a YAML configuration file and a set of template files (as discussed earlier in either Python or jinja). Google docs refer to the YAML file as your “configuration” and any jinja or Python files as your “templates” so be aware of this when looking through the documentation.

3 - Understand the deployment process

    gcloud deployment-manager deployments create {someStackName} --config {someConfigFile.yaml}

The “configuration” (YAML) files mentioned earlier are what you use in combination with the above gcloud command to deploy your DM stack, simply change {someStackName} to you desired stack name, and point {someConfigFile.yaml} towards your configuration file.

    gcloud deployment-manager deployments delete {someStackName}

The gcloud cli reads your configuration file and pulls in all the template files referenced in the imports section, it then transfers all these files to the deployment manager service where it runs the code inside the configuration and the templates. To remove a stack you have just deployed the following command will ensure everything is cleaned up (or error out)

4 - Usefull gcloud deployment flags


When deploying a DM stack, it is very handy for DM to rollback the stack if anything throws an error, this removes the need for you to delete a failed deployment and speeds up your turnaround time, append the following command any time you are creating a stack to enable DM to rollback the changes. I append this every time I create a stack.

 --delete-policy abandon

If you change a component of a stack, manually via console or cli, the stack may fail to delete, leaving orphaned resources this is because the resource DM is trying to delete, is not the same as when it was deployed. Appending the following command to any delete command will ensure the stack will delete and leave any resources it cannot delete, you will then have to go and cleanup the resources manually.

5 - Where to find the different supported resources

As soon as you branch away from the quickstart guide, you’ll quickly want to deploy infrastructure that means something to you, a customised deployment, with all the bespoke features deserving of a DM stack. First port of call should be the Supported Resource Types list from Google; these are the resources that are officially supported by GCP. The list is quite short, as they don’t “officially” support much yet. If the resource you are looking for is not in the Supported Resource Types you can look at the list of GCP provider Types these are currently in beta and as such can change without warning, but you’ll find they support a much wider variety of resources. Don’t be afraid about the beta tag, Google is pretty good with their betas, and they usually hit production without too many changes.

6 - The Google samples repository

I started with DM by assembling pieces of other peoples deployments, the easiest way to do this (IMHO) is to have a browse through the Google deployment manager samples repository as it has lots of really great examples for you to cannibalise. It is also super handy to see working examples of what is possible, and what is less possible. To get started, I suggest you clone a version of the samples repository, find the DM resource you want to deploy (from the links in tip 5) and search the files in the sample repository for your desired resource type. You’ll quickly find a working DM stack containing the resource you want to deploy.

Hopefully the tips above allow you to get off to a roaring start with your deployment manager stack creation, next time on pebkac, I will supply a little quickstart template of my own, containing an advanced technique to deploy any resource provided by GCP (not just the ones in the above resource lists), stay tuned for more :-)

Until next time…

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Alex Simpson




A virtualisation engineers venture into all things public cloud!

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