IBM Cloud has a vast array of services. Over 190 services today. One of those services is Kubernetes. This article shows how to set up a free Kubernetes cluster in IBM Cloud.

Kubernetes is an open-source container-orchestration system for automating application deployment, scaling, and management. Kubernetes was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Wikipedia

Kubernetes is now available from Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud. Kubernetes applications, if written and deployed correctly, can eliminate vendor lock-in. A well-written application can easily run on any of the cloud vendors.

The free IBM Cloud Kubernetes cluster has a single worker node with 2 vCPUs and 4 GB of RAM. This cluster expires after 30 days but you can create another free cluster. This is enough to learn how to use Kubernetes and deploy several container applications. This Kubernetes setup is perfect for software development and as a training cluster while you learn the basics of Kubernetes and the CLI.

If you have not created an IBM Cloud account, read my article on creating a Lite Account. To deploy Kubernetes, you will need to upgrade to a standard account, which requires a credit card. You will not be charged to upgrade and you will receive a $200 credit on your new account.

IBM Cloud – Creating a Lite Account

Step 1 – Log in to IBM Cloud

Go to the IBM Cloud login page and enter your credentials.

Once logged in, the IBM Cloud Dashboard will display. Click on the  ☰ menu button.

Select Kubernetes from the menu.

Select Create cluster in the Kubernetes Cluster box.

Under Select a plan, select Free. Verify that the total price is Free. Then select Create cluster.

The Kubernetes service is now provisioning. I have highlighted various items to take notice of. Wait for the service to provision. In my testing, this took 15 minutes.

Note: The CLI installation instructions in the screenshot are for Linux/macOS. My next article in this series will show you how to set up the CLI for Windows and much more.

Once the service provisions, click on the Overview tab. Make note of the Expires in 30 days warning. After 30 days, you can provision another free cluster. You can also delete a free cluster and create a new one over and over. This is convenient for refreshing a test cluster.

Learning Resources

IBM offers a good starter course for Kubernetes. This course takes about an hour to complete. I recommend following this article to create a Kubernetes service and then take this course to get started. Each vendor has small nuances to log in, set up the CLI and launch services.

Course Page


  • Get an introduction to Kubernetes
  • Understand Kubernetes architecture at a high level
  • Get familiar with Kubernetes terms and concepts
  • Learn about the controlling components in a Kubernetes cluster
  • Learn about the node server services that work with the controlling components in the cluster
  • Learn the difference between Pods, replication controllers, and services

Additional Learning Resources

More Information


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