How to setup Virtual machine on Google Cloud Platform

Working on a cloud platform always sounds interesting but what if you have some framework where you can automate your cloud infrastructure. In this article, we are going to see How to set up your first Virtual Machine on Google Cloud The platform using Terraform

This article is aimed at the beginner who is just starting with Terraform and Google Cloud Platform(GCP).


  1. The only prerequisite is - You must install Terraform before jumping to Google Cloud Setup.

Table of Content

  1. Create a project on GCP
  2. Create Service Account
  3. Assign additional roles to the Service Account
  4. Generate Keys for Service Account
  5. Prepare terraform file (Add google provider details along with google_compute_instance)
  6. Run - terraform init, terraform plan, terraform apply
  7. Verify your Setup
  8. Destroy Virtual Machine on Google Cloud
  9. Conclusion

1. Create a project on GCP (Google Cloud Platform)

I am assuming you already have GCP account, if not then I would suggest you use 1 Year free GCP account.

Alright so to begin with the first thing which we are going to do is Create Project on GCP.

Head over to GCP and create your First Project.

GCP Create Project

Click on the New Project

GCP New Project

For this article, I have created a project with the name gcp-terraform

2.Create a Service account for the project

In the second step, we need to create the Service Account inside the project which we created in the Step 1

Before creating the service account make sure to select the project which you created.

Head over to left navigation and select IAM & Admin -> Service Accounts

Google Cloud IAM and Admin Service account

It will redirect you to Service Account to create the page.

Now you need to input some meaningful name for the service account. In my case, I have kept the name gcp-terraform-acc

Google Cloud IAM and Admin Service account

3. Assign additional roles to the Service Account

3.1 Add Project --> Owner role

Now you have created your service account and in the third step we are going to create our first role for the service account.

In the roles dropdown look for Project and inside project add Owner role. (Refer to the screenshot)

Project --> Owner

Google Cloud add project owner role

3.2 Add Compute --> Compute admin role

The next role which we need is Compute Admin Role available inside Compute

Compute Engine --> Compute Admin Role

Google Cloud add compute admin role

3.3 Add Compute --> Compute Network Admin

The third role which you need to add is Compute Network Admin available inside Compute

Compute Engine --> Compute Network Admin

Google Cloud add compute network admin role for service account

4. Generate Keys for Service Account

After adding the roles now we need to generate the keys for the authorization. We are going to use these keys from our Terrafrom module later.

From the service account list select the account which you have created (In my case the service account name is gcp-terrafrom-acc) and then click on the 3 dots options.

Google Cloud select account for keys creation

Now you need to look for the manage keys options -

Google Cloud manage keys

Under the Keys section click on ADD KEY -> Create New Key

Google Cloud select account for keys creation

In the next option, you need to select the type of key. For the current example, we are going to select the JSON.

Google Cloud select key as JSON

Now you need to download the key and save it somewhere onto your local computer. (It would be nice if you could rename the file JSON keys file, I have renamed it - gcp-account.json but you can choose any name of your choice)

Google Cloud download the JSON key

5. Prepare terraform file ""

Now we are going to write our first Terrafrom script. Create a file named

5.1 Add the provider details

As you know we are going to provision the virtual machine on Google, so we need to select the provider as google.

1 provider "google" {
2     credentials = file("gcp-account.json")
3     project     = "gcp-terraform-307119"
4     region      = "europe-west4"
5     zone        = "europe-west4-a"

Few points to take care -
  1. gcp-account.json - It is the JSON key file which we have downloaded in Step 4 . Please save the gcp-account.json at the same location where you have created
  2. project - You need to mention the Project ID from your google console
  3. region && zone - Select the region and zone which is near from your current location

5.2 Add "google_compute_instance" instance

Since we aim to create a Virtual Machine on Google Cloud Platform, so we need to add google_compute_instance configuration.

 1resource "google_compute_instance" "default" {
 2  name         = "test"
 3  machine_type = "e2-micro"
 5  boot_disk {
 6    initialize_params {
 7      image = "debian-cloud/debian-9"
 8    }
 9  }
11  network_interface {
12    network = "default"
14    access_config {
15      // Ephemeral IP
16    }
17  }

Few points to take care -
  1. name - You can keep the name of your virtual instance as per your choice
  2. machine_type - I have chosen e2-micro but you can choose from - e2-small, e2-medium, e2-standard-2 etc.
  3. boot_disk - Here you need to mention the host OS and I have opted for - debian-cloud/debian-9
  4. network_interface - This configuration is needed for getting the IP address of the virtual machine.

6. Run - terraform init, terraform plan, terraform apply

Now we have completed all the pre-requisites needed for provisioning the Virtual Machine(VM) on Google Cloud.

The first command which we are going to run is -

6.1 terraform init

The first command we need to run is -

1terraform init 

This command is going to download all the required dependencies based on the provider name mentioned in the In the current example the provider name is Google so it is going to install Google's terraform dependencies onto your laptop.

You should see something similar in your console -

1Initializing the backend...
3Initializing provider plugins...
4- Reusing the previous version of hashicorp/google from the dependency lock file
5- Installing hashicorp/google v3.59.0...
6- Installed hashicorp/google v3.59.0 (signed by HashiCorp)
8Terraform has been successfully initialized! 

6.2 terraform plan

The second command which we are going to run is -

1terraform plan 

This command tells you -

  1. How many resources are going to be created
  2. How many resources are going to be destroyed
  3. How many resources are going to change.

Note - terraform plan never creates the VM on google plan, it just tells you what it is going to perform.

As you know this is our first example so the terraform plan is going to create 1 resource for us.

Here is the output of the command -

 1An execution plan has been generated and is shown below.
 2Resource actions are indicated with the following symbols:
 3  + create
 5Terraform will perform the following actions:
 7  # google_compute_instance.default will be created
 8  + resource "google_compute_instance" "default" {
 9      + can_ip_forward       = false
10      + cpu_platform         = (known after apply)
11      + current_status       = (known after apply)
12      + deletion_protection  = false
13      + guest_accelerator    = (known after apply)
14      + id                   = (known after apply)
15      + instance_id          = (known after apply)
16      + label_fingerprint    = (known after apply)
17      + machine_type         = "e2-micro"
18      + metadata_fingerprint = (known after apply)
19      + min_cpu_platform     = (known after apply)
20      + name                 = "test"
21      + project              = (known after apply)
22      + self_link            = (known after apply)
23      + tags_fingerprint     = (known after apply)
24      + zone                 = (known after apply)
26      + boot_disk {
27          + auto_delete                = true
28          + device_name                = (known after apply)
29          + disk_encryption_key_sha256 = (known after apply)
30          + kms_key_self_link          = (known after apply)
31          + mode                       = "READ_WRITE"
32          + source                     = (known after apply)
34          + initialize_params {
35              + image  = "debian-cloud/debian-9"
36              + labels = (known after apply)
37              + size   = (known after apply)
38              + type   = (known after apply)
39            }
40        }
42      + confidential_instance_config {
43          + enable_confidential_compute = (known after apply)
44        }
46      + network_interface {
47          + name               = (known after apply)
48          + network            = "default"
49          + network_ip         = (known after apply)
50          + subnetwork         = (known after apply)
51          + subnetwork_project = (known after apply)
53          + access_config {
54              + nat_ip       = (known after apply)
55              + network_tier = (known after apply)
56            }
57        }
59      + scheduling {
60          + automatic_restart   = (known after apply)
61          + on_host_maintenance = (known after apply)
62          + preemptible         = (known after apply)
64          + node_affinities {
65              + key      = (known after apply)
66              + operator = (known after apply)
67              + values   = (known after apply)
68            }
69        }
70    }
72Plan: 1 to add, 0 to change, 0 to destroy.

6.3 terraform apply

The final command which we are going to run is terraform apply.

This command is going to install/setup the virtual machine on Google Cloud.

1terraform apply 

After running the above command you should see the following message on your terminal

 2Do you want to perform these actions?
 3  Terraform will perform the actions described above.
 4  Only 'yes' will be accepted to approve.
 6  Enter a value: yes
 8google_compute_instance.default: Creating...
 9google_compute_instance.default: Still creating... [10s elapsed]
10google_compute_instance.default: Creation complete after 15s [id=projects/gcp-terraform-307119/zones/europe-west4-a/instances/test]
12Apply complete! Resources: 1 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.

If you see a similar message on your terminal which means it is has provisioned the Virtual Machine successfully on Google Cloud.

(If you face issue - Error creating service account: googleapi: Error 403: Identity and Access Management (IAM) API has not been used in project 46864460xxxx before or it is disabled - Click here for troubleshooting)

7. Verify your Setup

Now at last we are going to verify it by actually logging into the Google Cloud.

Navigate to Compute Engine -> VM Instances

You should see a virtual machine running

Verify virtual machine by running on google cloud

Congratulations! You have successfully provisioned your first Virtual machine running on Google Cloud using Terraform.

8. Destroy Virtual Machine

You can destroy the virtual machine running on Google Cloud using the following command

1terraform destroy 

Once you run the terraform destroy command then you should see something similar on your terminal

 2Do you want to destroy all resources?
 3  Terraform will destroy all your managed infrastructure, as shown above.
 4  There is no undo. Only 'yes' will be accepted to confirm.
 6  Enter a value: yes
 8google_compute_instance.default: Destroying... [id=projects/gcp-terraform-307119/zones/europe-west4-a/instances/test]
 9google_compute_instance.default: Still destroying... [id=projects/gcp-terraform-307119/zones/europe-west4-a/instances/test, 10s elapsed]
10google_compute_instance.default: Still destroying... [id=projects/gcp-terraform-307119/zones/europe-west4-a/instances/test, 20s elapsed]
11google_compute_instance.default: Destruction complete after 22s 


  1. This guide will help you to getting started with terraform
  2. It will give a very good idea of how to write your first terraform configuration file.
  3. You will also have a very good understanding of how to use - terraform init, terraform plan, terrafrom apply, terraform destroy
  4. In the end you will have a very good understanding of how to use google provider's dependencies with Terraform

Read More - Terragrunt -

  1. How to use Terragrunt?

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