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Create Secure AKS clusters to Seamlessly Manage your Container-based Applications

Create Secure AKS clusters to Seamlessly Manage your Container-based Applications


Kubernetes has been a success among businesses that required an open-source tool to easily deploy and manage containers hosted on a physical hardware, Virtual Machine (VM), or a cloud platform. The feature of ‘no vendor lock-in’ provided by Kubernetes technology is what pulled many IT heads’ attention because of what freedom it provides.  

Today for an IT-driven organization, migrating workloads from one cloud service to another, even on an on-premises environment, is easy as there is minimal disruption and no need for application refactoring. There are various Kubernetes as a Service platforms in the market today which offer unique functionalities. 

Many Kubernetes users utilize Microsoft Azure or another public cloud provider to host their Kubernetes clusters. Using Azure resources for Kubernetes does not entail a commitment to the service provider. Kubernetes is a container-based platform that can quickly migrate from on-premises environments to the cloud and back again. 

Kubernetes on Azure: Tools and Services

When it comes to Kubernetes, these are the three best Azure solutions to employ. Third-party connectors with Azure are also available to assist you in managing your Kubernetes clusters. 

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a managed Azure service. Configure each worker node individually, and AKS takes care of everything else. There are just a few steps involved.  

The Kubernetes command control plane is set up and maintained by Azure. To use virtual computers, storage, and network resources, you must pay for a service. 

Automatic cluster updates and event-based auto-scaling are all included in AKS. High availability is also included. Microsoft Azure services, such as Load Balancer, Search, Monitor, and Visual Studio Code, are directly integrated with AKS. 

Visual Studio Code

You may use Visual Studio Code for personal or business use on any of these operating systems: Windows, Linux, or Mac. Many extensions may be added to VS Code to make it even more helpful.  

To build helm charts and Kubernetes manifests, you may utilize the Kubernetes Tools plugin in VS Code. It can also assist you in troubleshooting real Kubernetes applications. 

Self-hosted Kubernetes or a managed AKS cluster may be deployed using Visual Studio Code. The Azure Command Line Interface (CLI) must be deployed on your working workstation before you can publish to AKS. 

Azure Dev Spaces

Azure Dev Spaces is a service that facilitates the iterative development and testing of microservices in a cloud environment. It has the following capabilities: 

  • Clone and dependency modelling is not required, which simplifies unit testing. 
  • Facilitates teamwork by allowing AKS containers to be operated and debugged by a group and cluster environments to be shared. 
  • The Azure CLI and Visual Studio code are both supported. 

How to Create a Kubernetes Cluster in Azure

AKS clusters may be configured to use Kubernetes role-based access control (RBAC). It is possible to configure permissions for a particular namespace or a whole cluster by giving numerous roles to users. When you construct an AKS cluster using the Azure CLI, RBAC is included by default. 

Creating an AKS cluster

MyAKSCluster and myResourceGroup are the names of the clusters and resource group that will be created in this article, demonstrating how to establish a cluster. Azure Active Directory service is automatically built to communicate with the AKS cluster and other Azure services. 

In the following code, the service principal has been granted access to retrieve images from the Azure Container Registry (ACR). 

az aks create \ 
    –resource-group myResourceGroup \ 
    –name myAKSCluster \ 
    –node-count 2 \ 
    –generate-ssh-keys \ 
    –attach-acr <acrName> 

Manually creating an ACR image retrieval service principal is another option. The AKS deployment data should be delivered in JSON format in a couple of minutes. 

Installing the Kubernetes command-line interface

The kubectl command-line client may be used to establish a connection with your local Kubernetes cluster. kubectl should be deployed in Azure Cloud Shell without any manual configuration. Use the following command if you wish to install locally: 

az aks install-cli 

Connect to the cluster using kubectl

The az aks-credentials function enables Kubectl to connect to the Kubernetes cluster and create a connection with it. The following example demonstrates how an AKS cluster named myAKSCluster may obtain credentials from myResourceGroup. 

az aks get-credentials –resource-group myResourceGroup –name myAKSCluster 

Kubectl should provide a list of the test cluster’s nodes when you run the command. 

$ kubectl get nodes 

Kubernetes on Azure: Best Practices

Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your Kubernetes workloads on Azure: 

AKS Cluster Efficiency Resource Queries and Limits

You can better distribute workloads in your Kubernetes clusters by specifying pod needs and constraints. To keep cluster resources under control, Kubernetes uses criteria and limitations.  

Kubernetes’ job is to plan the resources needed when a pod is requested automatically. Kubernetes uses limits to restrict and regulate the resources allotted to a single pod inside the cluster. 

Sharing clusters with other groups or apps is possible if your pod does not have any needs or constraints, for which you can define resources in the namespace. A ResourceQuota object is generated to request and limit bandwidth for all pods in a particular namespace. Alternatively, you can use the LimitRange object to set the default settings for all pods in a container. 

Tolerances and Affinity for Worker Nodes

Next, you’ll need to figure out how many workstations the cluster needs. Selecting a node configuration with as few resources as possible while being able to manage the workloads is highly recommended.  

Over-resourced nodes will increase your Azure expenditures and hinder your capacity to scale your application’s infrastructure. 

Then, the nodes may be tagged and assigned to specific tasks. A node with SSD storage may install pods with node affinity, and pods running on the same node can be guaranteed to run together. Avoid scheduling pods in specific cluster nodes by adjusting taint or tolerance. 

Storage Types

Persistent data storage is not required for Kubernetes applications that do not need to be stateful. AKS cluster performance may be boosted by choosing the right type of storage.  

Some actions require storage, such as downloading pictures from a container repository, even in a stateless system. Solid-state drives (SSD) should be used in production.  

Use NAS if you need to connect to numerous devices at once. The node’s size also influences the storage efficiency of the cluster. Be mindful that Azure offers several virtual machine sizes with the same amount of CPU and memory resources but with varying storage settings. 

Takeaway

If you’re looking to orchestrate containers, Kubernetes is a great starting point because it’s open-source and is now an industry standard. The process of setting up an AKS cluster is relatively straightforward. As a result, you must be careful in defining your resource requirements and constraints. Choosing experts such as Motifworks to build an environment for innovation is a better option for organizations looking to make the most of such open-source technology. Motifworks has been working with Microsoft for over 10 years, and in a decade, we have helped many organizations design & implement AKS. Through proven methods, tools, and the experience we gained throughout the decade, we have successfully transformed operational capabilities by modernizing applications with container technologies, deliver new microservices, and accelerate development processes.

Jamie Gunn​​ , Cloud Solutions Director​​​​​​​, Motifworks

Jamie Gunn

Director | Cloud Solutions and Development | Motifworks

Jamie has driven multiple digital transformation engagements with organizations of all sizes ranging from startups to well established corporate environments. He aspires to help organizations create new value for their business in a highly competitive environment by leveraging DevSecOps, Design Thinking, and Cloud Native development methodologies. Jamie is extremely well at simplifying technologies so that they are easily understood by all levels of an organization.

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