How to get started, and achieve tasks, using Kubernetes

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VMware vSphere

The example below creates a Kubernetes cluster with 4 worker node Virtual Machines and a master Virtual Machine (i.e. 5 VMs in your cluster). This cluster is set up and controlled from your workstation (or wherever you find convenient).


  1. You need administrator credentials to an ESXi machine or vCenter instance with write mode api access enabled (not available on the free ESXi license).
  2. You must have Go (see here for supported versions) installed:
  3. You must have your GOPATH set up and include $GOPATH/bin in your PATH.
export GOPATH=$HOME/src/go
mkdir -p $GOPATH
export PATH=$PATH:$GOPATH/bin
  1. Install the govc tool to interact with ESXi/vCenter. Head to govc Releases to download the latest.
# Sample commands for v0.8.0 for 64 bit Linux.
curl -OL
gzip -d govc_linux_amd64.gz
chmod +x govc_linux_amd64
mv govc_linux_amd64 /usr/local/bin/govc
  1. Get or build a binary release


Download a prebuilt Debian 8.2 VMDK that we’ll use as a base image:

curl --remote-name-all{,.md5}
md5sum -c kube.vmdk.gz.md5
gzip -d kube.vmdk.gz

Configure the environment for govc

export GOVC_URL='hostname' # hostname of the vc
export GOVC_USERNAME='username' # username for logging into the vsphere.
export GOVC_PASSWORD='password' # password for the above username
export GOVC_NETWORK='Network Name' # Name of the network the vms should join. Many times it could be "VM Network"
export GOVC_INSECURE=1 # If the host above uses a self-signed cert
export GOVC_DATASTORE='target datastore'
# To get resource pool via govc: govc ls -l 'host/*' | grep ResourcePool | awk '{print $1}' | xargs -n1 -t govc
export GOVC_RESOURCE_POOL='resource pool or cluster with access to datastore'
export GOVC_GUEST_LOGIN='kube:kube' # Used for logging into kube.vmdk during deployment.
export GOVC_PORT=443 # The port to be used by vSphere cloud provider plugin
# To get datacente via govc: govc
export GOVC_DATACENTER='ha-datacenter' # The datacenter to be used by vSphere cloud provider plugin

Sample environment shell export GOVC_URL='' export GOVC_USERNAME='administrator' export GOVC_PASSWORD='MyPassword1' export GOVC_NETWORK='VM Network' export GOVC_INSECURE=1 export GOVC_DATASTORE='datastore1' export GOVC_RESOURCE_POOL='/Datacenter/host/' export GOVC_GUEST_LOGIN='kube:kube' export GOVC_PORT='443' export GOVC_DATACENTER='Datacenter'

Import this VMDK into your vSphere datastore: shell govc import.vmdk kube.vmdk ./kube/

Verify that the VMDK was correctly uploaded and expanded to ~3GiB:

govc ./kube/

If you need to debug any part of the deployment, the guest login for the image that you imported is kube:kube. It is normally specified in the GOVC_GUEST_LOGIN parameter above.

Also take a look at the file cluster/vsphere/ and make any needed changes. You can configure the number of nodes as well as the IP subnets you have made available to Kubernetes, pods, and services.

Starting a cluster

Now, let’s continue with deploying Kubernetes. This process takes about ~20-30 minutes depending on your network.

From extracted binary release

cd kubernetes
KUBERNETES_PROVIDER=vsphere cluster/

Build from source

cd kubernetes
make release
KUBERNETES_PROVIDER=vsphere cluster/

Refer to the top level README and the getting started guide for Google Compute Engine. Once you have successfully reached this point, your vSphere Kubernetes deployment works just as any other one!


Extra: debugging deployment failure

The output of displays the IP addresses of the VMs it deploys. You can log into any VM as the kube user to poke around and figure out what is going on (find yourself authorized with your SSH key, or use the password kube otherwise).

Support Level

IaaS Provider Config. Mgmt OS Networking Docs Conforms Support Level
Vmware vSphere Saltstack Debian OVS docs   Community (@imkin), (@abrarshivani), (@kerneltime), (@kerneltime)

For support level information on all solutions, see the Table of solutions chart.


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