Running OpenFaaS on GKE - a step by step guide

By Stefan Prodan
December 04, 2017

In this tutorial you will learn how to set-up OpenFaaS on Kubernetes with monitoring and alerting using Weave Cloud. Using OpenFaaS for serverless avoids being locked-in to one of the cloud vendors. It's easy to run in Kubernetes, letting you mix different services depending on your applications needs.

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In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to set-up OpenFaaS on Kubernetes with monitoring and alerting using Weave Cloud. Using OpenFaaS for serverless avoids being locked-in to one of the cloud vendors. It's easy to run in Kubernetes, letting you mix different services depending on your applications needs.

OpenFaaS is a serverless framework that runs on top of Kubernetes. It comes with a built-in UI and a handy CLI that takes you from scaffolding new functions to deploying them on your Kubernetes cluster. What's special about OpenFaaS is that you can package any executable as a function, and as long as it runs in a Docker container, it will work on OpenFaaS.

What follows is a step by step guide on running OpenFaaS with Kubernetes 1.8 on Google Cloud.

This setup is optimized for production use:

  • Kubernetes multi-zone cluster
  • OpenFaaS system API and UI are username/password protected
  • all OpenFaaS components have 1GB memory limits
  • the gateway read/write timeouts are set to one minute
  • asynchronous function calls with NATS streaming and three queue workers
  • optional GKE Ingress controller with Let's Encrypt TLS

Create a GCP project

Login to GCP and create a new project named openfaas. If you don't have a GCP account you can apply for a free trial. After creating the project, enable billing and wait for the API and related services to be enabled. Download and install the Google Cloud SDK from this page. After installing the SDK run gcloud init and then, set the default project to openfaas and the default zone to europe-west3-a.

Install kubectl using gcloud:

gcloud components install kubectl

Go to Google Cloud Platform -> API Manager -> Credentials -> Create Credentials -> Service account key and choose JSON as key type. Rename the file to account.json and put it in the project root. Add your SSH key under Compute Engine -> Metadata -> SSH Keys, also create a metadata entry named sshKeys with your public SSH key as value.

Create a Kubernetes cluster

Create a three node cluster with each node in a different zone:

k8s_version=$(gcloud container get-server-config --format=json | jq -r '.validNodeVersions[0]')
gcloud container clusters create demo \
    --cluster-version=${k8s_version} \
    --zone=europe-west3-a \
    --additional-zones=europe-west3-b,europe-west3-c \
    --num-nodes=1 \
    --machine-type=n1-standard-2 \

Increase the size of the default node pool to 6 nodes:

gcloud container clusters resize --size=2

You can delete the cluster at any time with:

gcloud container clusters delete demo -z=europe-west3-a

Set up credentials for kubectl:

gcloud container clusters get-credentials demo -z=europe-west3-a

Create a cluster admin user:

kubectl create clusterrolebinding "cluster-admin-$(whoami)" \
    --clusterrole=cluster-admin \
    --user="$(gcloud config get-value core/account)"

Grant admin privileges to kubernetes-dashboard (don't do this on a production environment):

kubectl create clusterrolebinding "cluster-admin-$(whoami)" \
    --clusterrole=cluster-admin \
    --user="$(gcloud config get-value core/account)"

You can access the kubernetes-dashboard at http://localhost:9099/ui using kubectl reverse proxy:

kubectl proxy --port=9099 &

Create a Weave Cloud Instance

Now that you have a Kubernetes cluster up and running you can start monitoring it with Weave Cloud. You'll need a Weave Could service token, if you don't have a Weave token go to Weave Cloud and sign up for a trial account.

Deploy the Weave Cloud agents:

kubectl apply -n kube-system -f \
"$(kubectl version | base64 | tr -d '\n')&t=<WEAVE-TOKEN>"

Navigate to Weave Cloud Explore to inspect your K8S cluster:


Deploy OpenFaaS with basic authentication

Clone openfaas-gke repo:

git clone
cd openfaas-gke

Create the openfaas and openfaas-fn namespaces:

kubectl apply -f ./namespaces.yaml

Deploy OpenFaaS services in the openfaas namespace:

kubectl apply -f ./openfaas

This will create the pods, deployments and services for an OpenFaaS gateway, faas-netesd (K8S controller), Prometheus, Alert Manager, Nats and the Queue worker.

Before exposing OpenFaaS on the Internet, you'll need to setup authentication. First create a basic-auth secret with your username and password:

kubectl -n openfaas create secret generic basic-auth \
    --from-literal=user=admin \

Deploy Caddy as a reverse proxy for OpenFaaS gateway:

kubectl apply -f ./caddy

Wait for an external IP to be allocated and then use it to access the OpenFaaS gateway UI with your credentials at http://<EXTERNAL-IP>. You can get the external IP by running kubectl get svc.

get_gateway_ip() {
    kubectl -n openfaas describe service caddy-lb | grep Ingress | awk '{ print $NF }'
until [[ "$(get_gateway_ip)" ]]
 do sleep 1;
 echo -n ".";
echo "."
echo "OpenFaaS Gateway IP: ${gateway_ip}"

Install the OpenFaaS CLI:

curl -sL | sudo sh

Login with the CLI:

faas-cli login -u admin -p admin --gateway http://<EXTERNAL-IP>

If you want to avoid having your password in bash history, you could create a text file with it and use that along with the --password-stdin flag:

cat ~/faas_pass.txt | faas-cli login -u admin --password-stdin --gateway http://<EXTERNAL-IP>

You can logout at any time with:

faas-cli logout --gateway http://<EXTERNAL-IP>

Optionally you could expose the gateway using Google Cloud L7 HTTPS load balancer. A detailed guide on how to use Kubernetes Ingress controller with Let's Encrypt can be found here.

Deploy the OpenFaaS functions

Create a stack file named stack.yml containing two functions:

git clone
cd openfaas-gke

With the com.openfaas.scale.min label you can set the minimum number of running pods. With com.openfaas.scale.max you can set the maximum number of replicas for the autoscaler. By default OpenFaaS will keep a single pod running per function and under load it will scale up to a maximum of 20 pods.

Deploy nodeinfo and echo on OpenFaaS:

faas-cli deploy

The deploy command looks for a stack.yml file in the current directory and deploys all of the functions in the openfaas-fn namespace.

Invoke the functions:

echo -n "test" | faas-cli invoke echo --gateway=http://<EXTERNAL-IP>
echo -n "verbose" | faas-cli invoke nodeinfo --gateway=http://<EXTERNAL-IP>

Monitoring OpenFaaS

Let's run a load test with 10 function calls per second:

#install hey
go get -u
#do 1K requests rate limited at 10 QPS
hey -n 1000 -q 10 -c 1 -m POST -d "verbose" http://<EXTERNAL-IP>/function/nodeinfo

In the Weave Cloud UI under Explore you'll see how OpenFaaS scales up the nodeinfo pods:


You can also monitor the scale up/down events with GCP Stackdrive Logs using this advanced filter:

textPayload: "alerts"

Weave Cloud extends Prometheus by providing a distributed, multi-tenant, horizontally scalable version of Prometheus. It hosts the scraped Prometheus metrics for you, so that you don’t have to worry about storage or backups.

Weave Cloud comes with canned dashboards for Kubernetes that you can use to monitor a specific namespace:


You can also make your own dashboards based on OpenFaaS specific metrics:


Create functions

With the OpenFaaS CLI you can chose between using a programming language template where you only need to provide a handler file, or a Docker template that you can build yourself. There are many supported languages like Go, JS (node), Python, C# and Ruby.

Let's create a function with Go that fetches the SSL/TLS certificate info for a given URL.

First create a directory for your functions under GOPATH:

mkdir -p $GOPATH/src/functions

Inside the functions dir use the CLI to create the certinfo function:

cd $GOPATH/src/functions
faas-cli new --lang go certinfo

Open handler.go in your favorite editor and add the certificate fetching code:

package function
import (
func Handle(req []byte) string {
    address := string(req) + ":443"
    ipConn, err := net.DialTimeout("tcp", address, 2*time.Second)
    if err != nil {
        return fmt.Sprintf("Dial error: %v", err)
    defer ipConn.Close()
    conn := tls.Client(ipConn, &tls.Config{
        InsecureSkipVerify: true,
    if err = conn.Handshake(); err != nil {
        return fmt.Sprintf("Handshake error: %v", err)
    defer conn.Close()
    addr := conn.RemoteAddr()
    host, port, err := net.SplitHostPort(addr.String())
    if err != nil {
        return fmt.Sprintf("Error: %v", err)
    cert := conn.ConnectionState().PeerCertificates[0]
    return fmt.Sprintf("Host %v\nPort %v\nIssuer %v\nCommonName %v\nNotBefore %v\nNotAfter %v\nSANs %v\n",
        host, port, cert.Issuer.CommonName, cert.Subject.CommonName, cert.NotBefore, cert.NotAfter, cert.DNSNames)

Next to handler.go create handler_test.go with the following content:

package function
import (
func TestHandleReturnsCorrectResponse(t *testing.T) {
    expected := "Google Internet Authority"
    resp := Handle([]byte(""))
    r := regexp.MustCompile("(?m:" + expected + ")")
    if !r.MatchString(resp) {
        t.Fatalf("\nExpected: \n%v\nGot: \n%v", expected, resp)

Modify the certinfo.yml file and add your Docker Hub username to the image name:

  name: faas
  gateway: http://localhost:8080
    lang: go
    handler: ./certinfo
    image: stefanprodan/certinfo

Now let's build the function into a Docker image:

faas-cli build -f certinfo.yml

This will check your code for proper formatting with gofmt, run go build & test and pack your binary into an alpine image. If everything goes well, you'll have a local Docker image named username/certinfo:latest.

Push this image to Docker Hub. First create a public repository named certinfo, login to Docker Hub using docker CLI and then push the image:

docker login
faas-cli push -f certinfo.yml

Once the image is on Docker Hub you can deploy the function to your OpenFaaS GKE cluster:

faas-cli deploy -f certinfo.yml --gateway=http://<EXTERNAL-IP>

Invoke certinfo with:

$ echo -n "" | faas-cli invoke certinfo --gateway=<EXTERNAL-IP>
Port 443
Issuer Let's Encrypt Authority X3
NotBefore 2017-10-06 23:54:56 +0000 UTC
NotAfter 2018-01-04 23:54:56 +0000 UTC
SANs []

Full source code of the certinfo function can be found on GitHub at stefanprodan/openfaas-certinfo. In the certinfo repo you can see how easy it is to do continuous deployments to Docker Hub with TravisCI for OpenFaaS functions.


Like most serverless frameworks, OpenFaaS empowers developers to build, ship and run code in the cloud. What OpenFaaS adds to this, is portability between dev and production environments with no vendor lock-in. OpenFaaS is a promising project and with over 64 contributors is a vibrant community. Even as a relatively young project, you can run it reliably in production backed by Kubernetes and Google Cloud. You can also use Weave Cloud to monitor and alert on any issues in your OpenFaaS project.

Related posts

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