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GKE ludicrous speed! GKE Image Streaming speeds up container starts

Mattias Andersson
Mattias Andersson

Google Kubernetes Engine can now start containers up much more quickly than before!

Google calls this feature “Image Streaming” but it has nothing to do with you taking pictures while floating down the river on an inner tube. Rather, it’s all about how the container image can be streamed from Artifact Registry to GKE, just-in-time, as its various bits of data are needed.


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In the case of a tiny little container image, this makes no difference, really. The tiny amount of data is sent all at once and GKE runs the container like normal. But as the container grows (which definitely happens, in the real world) then this feature comes into play.

As Google writes:

“Image streaming works by mounting the container data layer in containerd using a sophisticated network mount, and backing it with multiple caching layers on the network,in-memory and on-disk. Your container transitions from the ImagePulling status to Running in a couple of seconds (regardless of container size) once we prepare the image streaming mount; this effectively parallelizes the application boot with the data transfer of required data in the container image. As a result, you can expect to see much faster container boot times and snappier autoscaling.

And who wouldn’t want that, right? Especially because they reassure us, “Image streaming is completely transparent as far as your containerized application is concerned.”

Now, the only catch to this–and you may already have caught it if you were paying close attention–is that GKE Image Streaming relies on Google’s Artifact Registry product. If you’re still using their older Container Registry, then this may be the push you need to make the move.

What else is new with Google this month? See what’s up with Managed Service for Prometheus, Cloud Logging contextual traces, a slew of services now in GA (including Cloud Domains and Vertex Pipelines–a new serverless MLOps solution), and Memorystore for Redis updates in the video below!

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