Deploy to a Virtual Machine

Deploy to Google Cloud in a Codefresh pipeline with Packer

Even though Codefresh is Kubernetes-native and designed for containers, it can still deploy traditional applications in the form of Virtual Machines to any Cloud provider.

In this example, we will use Packer to package an application into a VM disk image that will then be launched in Google Cloud. Because Packer itself is already offered in a Docker container, it is very easy to run Packer in a Codefresh pipeline.

Google also offers a Docker image for GCloud making the launching of the VM straightforward in a Codefresh pipeline.

Running Packer inside Codefresh

Running Packer inside Codefresh

This Codefresh pipeline creates a VM image and then uses it to launch a Google Compute instance.

The example Packer/Gcloud project

You can see the example project at The repository contains a simple Go application as well as a packer template.

You can play with it locally after installing the packer and gcloud executables.


You need to create a Codefresh account and a Google account first. Then you need to create a Service account Key which will allow packer and gcloud to communicate with Google cloud.

Add your service account json as a pipeline variable called SERVICE_ACCOUNT. The content of this variable will be used in order to authenticate to Google cloud.

Using a Service Account JSON in Codefresh

Using a Service Account JSON in Codefresh

Create a CI/CD pipeline for Packer/GCloud

Here is the whole pipeline:


version: '1.0'
  - prepare
  - build
  - deploy
    title: 'Cloning main repository...'
    type: git-clone
    repo: 'codefresh-contrib/vm-packer-sample-app'
    git: github
    revision: 'master'
    stage: prepare
    title: 'Setup GCloud Auth'
    image: 'alpine'
    stage: prepare
      - echo $SERVICE_ACCOUNT > account.json
    title: Compiling App code
    stage: build
    image: 'golang:1.12'
      - go build -o sample src/sample/trivial-web-server.go   
    title: Baking VM image
    stage: build
    image: 'hashicorp/packer'
      - packer validate my-google-cloud-example.json
      - packer build -force my-google-cloud-example.json
    title: Deploying to VM
    stage: deploy
    image: 'google/cloud-sdk'
      - gcloud auth activate-service-account --key-file=account.json
      - gcloud config set project firstkubernetes-176201
      - gcloud compute instances create packer-demo-codefresh --image codefresh-simple-ubuntu-vm --zone europe-west1-b --metadata-from-file --tags http-server --preemptible --quiet

This pipeline does the following:

  1. Clones the source code through a Git clone step.
  2. Saves the content of the variable that holds the Google account as a file called account.json.
  3. Compiles the Go application through a freestyle step.
  4. Runs packer to create a VM image based on Ubuntu that also contains the simple Go application.
  5. Runs gcloud to launch a VM with the image that was just created.

Run the pipeline and see your deployment succeed. You can customize the image by editing the Packer template.

Once the VM has finished launching you can access it with your web browser.

Accessing the VM application

Accessing the VM application

You can follow the same procedure for any other cloud that has an API/CLI (such as AWS, Azure, Digital Ocean etc).

CD pipeline examples
Codefresh YAML for pipeline definitions
Creating pipelines
How Codefresh pipelines work