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Deploy Tunnels with Terraform

Terraform is an infrastructure as code software tool that allows you to deploy services from different providers using a standardized configuration syntax. When creating a Terraform configuration file, you define the final state of the configuration rather than the step-by-step procedure. This allows you to easily deploy, modify, and manage your Tunnels alongside your other infrastructure.

In this guide, you will use Terraform to deploy:

  • A Google Cloud Project (GCP) virtual machine that runs a simple HTTP test server
  • A Cloudflare Tunnel that makes the server available over the Internet
  • A Cloudflare Access policy that defines who can connect to the server

​​ Prerequisites

To complete the following procedure, you will need:

​​ 1. Install Terraform

Refer to the Terraform installation guide for your operating system.

​​ 2. Install the gcloud CLI

  1. Install the gcloud CLI so that Terraform can interact with your GCP account.

  2. Authenticate with the CLI by running:

    $ gcloud auth application-default login

​​ 3. Create a Cloudflare API token

Create an API token so that Terraform can interact with your Cloudflare account. At minimum, your token should include the following permissions:

Permission typePermissionAccess level
AccountCloudflare TunnelEdit
AccountAccess: Apps and PoliciesEdit

​​ 4. Create a configuration directory

Terraform functions through a working directory that contains configuration files. You can store your configuration in multiple files or just one — Terraform will evaluate all of the configuration files in the directory as if they were in a single document.

  1. Create a folder for your Terraform configuration:

    $ mkdir cloudflare-tf
  2. Change into the directory:

    $ cd cloudflare-tf

​​ 5. Create Terraform configuration files

​​ Define input variables

The following variables will be passed into your GCP and Cloudflare configuration.

  1. In your configuration directory, create a .tf file:

    $ touch
  2. Open the file in a text editor and copy and paste the following:
    # GCP variables
    variable "gcp_project_id" {
    description = "Google Cloud Platform (GCP) project ID"
    type = string
    variable "zone" {
    description = "Geographical zone for the GCP VM instance"
    type = string
    variable "machine_type" {
    description = "Machine type for the GCP VM instance"
    type = string
    # Cloudflare variables
    variable "cloudflare_zone" {
    description = "Domain used to expose the GCP VM instance to the Internet"
    type = string
    variable "cloudflare_zone_id" {
    description = "Zone ID for your domain"
    type = string
    variable "cloudflare_account_id" {
    description = "Account ID for your Cloudflare account"
    type = string
    sensitive = true
    variable "cloudflare_email" {
    description = "Email address for your Cloudflare account"
    type = string
    sensitive = true
    variable "cloudflare_token" {
    description = "Cloudflare API token created at"
    type = string
    sensitive = true

​​ Assign values to the variables

  1. In your configuration directory, create a .tfvars file:

    $ touch terraform.tfvars

    Terraform will automatically use these variables if the file is named terraform.tfvars, otherwise the variable file will need to be manually passed in.

  2. Add the following variables to terraform.tfvars. Be sure to modify the example with your own values.

    cloudflare_zone = ""
    cloudflare_zone_id = "023e105f4ecef8ad9ca31a8372d0c353"
    cloudflare_account_id = "372e67954025e0ba6aaa6d586b9e0b59"
    cloudflare_email = "[email protected]"
    cloudflare_token = "y3AalHS_E7Vabk3c3lX950F90_Xl7YtjSlzyFn_X"
    gcp_project_id = "testvm-123"
    zone = "us-central1-a"
    machine_type = "e2-medium"

​​ Configure Terraform providers

You will need to declare the providers used to provision the infrastructure.

  1. In your configuration directory, create a .tf file:

    $ touch
  2. Add the following providers to The random provider is used to generate a tunnel secret.
    terraform {
    required_providers {
    cloudflare = {
    source = "cloudflare/cloudflare"
    version = ">= 4.9.0"
    google = {
    source = "hashicorp/google"
    random = {
    source = "hashicorp/random"
    required_version = ">= 0.13"
    # Providers
    provider "cloudflare" {
    api_token = var.cloudflare_token
    provider "google" {
    project = var.gcp_project_id
    provider "random" {

​​ Configure Cloudflare resources

The following configuration will modify settings in your Cloudflare account.

  1. In your configuration directory, create a .tf file:

    $ touch
  2. Add the following resources to
    # Generates a 64-character secret for the tunnel.
    # Using `random_password` means the result is treated as sensitive and, thus,
    # not displayed in console output. Refer to:
    resource "random_password" "tunnel_secret" {
    length = 64
    # Creates a new locally-managed tunnel for the GCP VM.
    resource "cloudflare_tunnel" "auto_tunnel" {
    account_id = var.cloudflare_account_id
    name = "Terraform GCP tunnel"
    secret = base64sha256(random_password.tunnel_secret.result)
    # Creates the CNAME record that routes http_app.${var.cloudflare_zone} to the tunnel.
    resource "cloudflare_record" "http_app" {
    zone_id = var.cloudflare_zone_id
    name = "http_app"
    value = "${cloudflare_tunnel.auto_tunnel.cname}"
    type = "CNAME"
    proxied = true
    # Creates the configuration for the tunnel.
    resource "cloudflare_tunnel_config" "auto_tunnel" {
    tunnel_id =
    account_id = var.cloudflare_account_id
    config {
    ingress_rule {
    hostname = "${cloudflare_record.http_app.hostname}"
    service = "http://httpbin:8080"
    ingress_rule {
    service = "http_status:404"
    # Creates an Access application to control who can connect.
    resource "cloudflare_access_application" "http_app" {
    zone_id = var.cloudflare_zone_id
    name = "Access application for http_app.${var.cloudflare_zone}"
    domain = "http_app.${var.cloudflare_zone}"
    session_duration = "1h"
    # Creates an Access policy for the application.
    resource "cloudflare_access_policy" "http_policy" {
    application_id =
    zone_id = var.cloudflare_zone_id
    name = "Example policy for http_app.${var.cloudflare_zone}"
    precedence = "1"
    decision = "allow"
    include {
    email = [var.cloudflare_email]

    To learn more about these resources, refer to the Cloudflare provider documentation.

​​ Configure GCP resources

The following configuration defines the specifications for the GCP virtual machine and creates a startup script to run upon boot.

  1. In your configuration directory, create a .tf file:

    $ touch
  2. Add the following content to
    # Selects the OS for the GCP VM.
    data "google_compute_image" "image" {
    family = "ubuntu-minimal-2004-lts"
    project = "ubuntu-os-cloud"
    # Sets up a GCP VM instance.
    resource "google_compute_instance" "origin" {
    name = "test"
    machine_type = var.machine_type
    zone =
    tags = []
    boot_disk {
    initialize_params {
    image = data.google_compute_image.image.self_link
    network_interface {
    network = "default"
    access_config {
    // Ephemeral IP
    // Optional config to make the instance ephemeral
    scheduling {
    preemptible = true
    automatic_restart = false
    // Configures the VM to run a startup script that takes in the Terraform variables.
    metadata_startup_script = templatefile("./install-tunnel.tpl",
    tunnel_token = cloudflare_tunnel.auto_tunnel.tunnel_token

​​ Create a startup script

The following script will install cloudflared, create a permissions and configuration file for the tunnel, and set up the tunnel to run as a service. This example also installs a lightweight HTTP application that you can use to test connectivity.

  1. In your configuration directory, create a Terraform template file:

    $ touch install-tunnel.tftpl
  2. Open the file in a text editor and copy and paste the following bash script:

    # Script to install Cloudflare Tunnel and Docker resources
    # Docker configuration
    cd /tmp
    sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
    # Retrieving the docker repository for this OS
    curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -
    sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] bionic stable"
    # The OS is updated and docker is installed
    sudo apt update -y && sudo apt upgrade -y
    sudo apt install docker docker-compose -y
    # Add the HTTPBin application and run it on localhost:8080.
    cat > /tmp/docker-compose.yml << "EOF"
    version: '3'
    image: kennethreitz/httpbin
    restart: always
    container_name: httpbin
    image: cloudflare/cloudflared:latest
    restart: always
    container_name: cloudflared
    command: tunnel run --token ${tunnel_token}
    cd /tmp
    sudo docker-compose up -d

​​ 6. Deploy Terraform

To deploy the configuration files:

  1. Initialize your configuration directory:

    $ terraform init
  2. Preview everything that will be created:

    $ terraform plan
  3. Apply the configuration:

    $ terraform apply

It may take several minutes for the GCP instance and tunnel to come online. You can view your new tunnel, Access application, and Access policy in Zero Trust. The new DNS records are available in the Cloudflare dashboard.

​​ 7. Test the connection

  1. In Networks > Tunnels, verify that your tunnel is active.

  2. In Access > Applications, verify that your Cloudflare email is allowed by the Access policy.

  3. From any device, open a browser and go to http_app.<cloudflare_zone> (for example,

    You will see the Access login page if you have not recently logged in.

  4. Log in with your Cloudflare email.

    You should see the HTTPBin homepage.