Introducing Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

[Update on June 16, 2018: AKS is now GA!]

Docker has been getting popular in recent years. It makes application deployment so efficient, we could easily build, ship, and run the application containers everywhere. With the trend of microservices, many people built a lot of services wrapped and deployed by containers, so container management and orchestration became a problem. Kubernetes solves this.

Kubernetes is an open source container management tool. It is a Go-Lang based, lightweight, and portable application. You can set up a Kubernetes cluster to deploy, manage, and scale the Docker container applications on multiple hosts.
However, building Kubernetes can be complex. Setting up Kubernetes nodes and control planes can be cumbersome. Furthermore, many people want leverage and integrate it with their own Continuous Delivery pipeline but getting to know the whole story and making it work well can be time-consuming.
Kubernetes comes from the Greek word κυβερνήτης:, which means helmsman or ship pilot. With this analogy in mind, we can think of Kubernetes as the manager for shipping containers.
Kubernetes is also referred to as k8s, as there are 8 characters between k and s.
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) reduces the complexity and operational overhead of managing a Kubernetes cluster by offloading much of that responsibility to Azure. As a hosted Kubernetes service, Azure handles critical tasks like health monitoring and maintenance for you. In addition, you pay only for the agent nodes within your clusters, not for the masters. As a managed Kubernetes service, AKS provides:
  • Automated Kubernetes version upgrades and patching
  • Easy cluster scaling
  • Self-healing hosted control plane (masters)
  • Cost savings - pay only for running agent pool nodes
Whereas AKS is still in Public Preview as we speak, during the Microsoft //build 2018 conference (May 7-9, 2018) we made some great announcements with this service like the deployment into an existing VNET, the integration with Azure Monitor and even the private preview of Windows containers! Check out the details of these updates.

As you are moving forward with Kubernetes and AKS you will need tools for more automation and simplifying your experience with it, here are some tools you should look at:
  • Azure Container Registry (ACR)
    • Azure Container Registry allows you to build, store, and manage images for all types of container deployments.
  • Helm
  • Draft
  • Brigade
    • Brigade is a tool for running scriptable, automated tasks as part of your Kubernetes cluster.
    • Checkout this introduction on Azure Friday - Channel9.
  • OSBA
    • Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA) is an easy way to connect applications running in platforms like Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry to some of the most popular Azure services, using a standard, multi-cloud API.
    • Checkout this introduction on Azure Friday - Channel9.
  • VSTS
    • Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) is Microsoft's DevOps solutions for Azure. Whether you are developing a .NET, Java, Node, PHP, or a Python app, or whether you are targeting app services, virtual machines, or containers in Azure, VSTS helps you set up a highly customizable continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) pipeline.
    • Get started with DevOps Project with AKS to generate your CI/CD pipeline with VSTS, Git, Docker, ACR, Helm and Kubernetes/AKS.
  • VS Code
  • Azure Dev Spaces for Kubernetes
    • In Private Preview, you could sign up and see how this platform could help you deploying and debugging applications within Kubernetes clusters.
    • Checkout this demonstration at Microsoft //build 2018 - Channel9

Have you heard about Serverless Containers? Serverless Containers is becoming more and more popular. Azure Container Instances (ACI) which has just been announced General Available (GA) recently is a great choice for this concept.
Brendan Burns, co-founder of Kubernetes working at Microsoft, in his recent article “The Future of Kubernetes is Serverless” is talking about the evolution and the vision of Kubernetes regarding the Serverless Containers concept. He highlights one of the open source project initiative named Virtual Kubelet which allows you for example to have ACI as nodes rather than just Virtual Machine (VM). At the conference KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU recently (May 2-5, 2018), Serverless Containers was a really popular topic as well.
An other new experimental project leveraging the Virtual Kubelet project has been made by the Azure IoT Edge team, check out the story.

Hope you have learned about Azure Kubernetes Service with this blog article. Now if you would like to get started, here are some resources you could leverage:

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