Create an HTTPS ingress controller on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

An ingress controller is a piece of software that provides reverse proxy, configurable traffic routing, and TLS termination for Kubernetes services. Kubernetes ingress resources are used to configure the ingress rules and routes for individual Kubernetes services. Using an ingress controller and ingress rules, a single IP address can be used to route traffic to multiple services in a Kubernetes cluster.

This article shows you how to deploy the NGINX ingress controller in an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster. The cert-manager project is used to automatically generate and configure Let's Encrypt certificates. Finally, two applications are run in the AKS cluster, each of which is accessible over a single IP address.

You can also:

Before you begin

This article uses Helm to install the NGINX ingress controller, cert-manager, and a sample web app. You need to have Helm initialized within your AKS cluster and using a service account for Tiller. Make sure that you are using the latest release of Helm. For upgrade instructions, see the Helm install docs. For more information on configuring and using Helm, see Install applications with Helm in Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

This article also requires that you are running the Azure CLI version 2.0.41 or later. Run az --version to find the version. If you need to install or upgrade, see Install Azure CLI.

Create an ingress controller

To create the ingress controller, use Helm to install nginx-ingress. For added redundancy, two replicas of the NGINX ingress controllers are deployed with the --set controller.replicaCount parameter. To fully benefit from running replicas of the ingress controller, make sure there's more than one node in your AKS cluster.


The following example installs the ingress controller in the kube-system namespace. You can specify a different namespace for your own environment if desired. If your AKS cluster is not RBAC enabled, add --set rbac.create=false to the commands.

helm install stable/nginx-ingress --namespace kube-system --set controller.replicaCount=2

During the installation, an Azure public IP address is created for the ingress controller. This public IP address is static for the life-span of the ingress controller. If you delete the ingress controller, the public IP address assignment is lost. If you then create an additional ingress controller, a new public IP address is assigned. If you wish to retain the use of the public IP address, you can instead create an ingress controller with a static public IP address.

To get the public IP address, use the kubectl get service command. It takes a few minutes for the IP address to be assigned to the service.

$ kubectl get service -l app=nginx-ingress --namespace kube-system

NAME                                       TYPE           CLUSTER-IP     EXTERNAL-IP     PORT(S)                      AGE
eager-crab-nginx-ingress-controller        LoadBalancer  80:30920/TCP,443:30426/TCP   20m
eager-crab-nginx-ingress-default-backend   ClusterIP    <none>          80/TCP                       20m

No ingress rules have been created yet. If you browse to the public IP address, the NGINX ingress controller's default 404 page is displayed.

Configure a DNS name

For the HTTPS certificates to work correctly, configure an FQDN for the ingress controller IP address. Update the following script with the IP address of your ingress controller and a unique name that you would like to use for the FQDN:


# Public IP address of your ingress controller

# Name to associate with public IP address

# Get the resource-id of the public ip
PUBLICIPID=$(az network public-ip list --query "[?ipAddress!=null]|[?contains(ipAddress, '$IP')].[id]" --output tsv)

# Update public ip address with DNS name
az network public-ip update --ids $PUBLICIPID --dns-name $DNSNAME

The ingress controller is now accessible through the FQDN.

Install cert-manager

The NGINX ingress controller supports TLS termination. There are several ways to retrieve and configure certificates for HTTPS. This article demonstrates using cert-manager, which provides automatic Lets Encrypt certificate generation and management functionality.


This article uses the staging environment for Let's Encrypt. In production deployments, use letsencrypt-prod and in the resource definitions and when installing the Helm chart.

To install the cert-manager controller in an RBAC-enabled cluster, use the following helm install command:

helm install stable/cert-manager \
    --namespace kube-system \
    --set ingressShim.defaultIssuerName=letsencrypt-staging \
    --set ingressShim.defaultIssuerKind=ClusterIssuer

If your cluster is not RBAC enabled, instead use the following command:

helm install stable/cert-manager \
    --namespace kube-system \
    --set ingressShim.defaultIssuerName=letsencrypt-staging \
    --set ingressShim.defaultIssuerKind=ClusterIssuer \
    --set rbac.create=false \
    --set serviceAccount.create=false

For more information on cert-manager configuration, see the cert-manager project.

Create a CA cluster issuer

Before certificates can be issued, cert-manager requires an Issuer or ClusterIssuer resource. These Kubernetes resources are identical in functionality, however Issuer works in a single namespace, and ClusterIssuer works across all namespaces. For more information, see the cert-manager issuer documentation.

Create a cluster issuer, such as cluster-issuer.yaml, using the following example manifest. Update the email address with a valid address from your organization:

kind: ClusterIssuer
  name: letsencrypt-staging
      name: letsencrypt-staging
    http01: {}

To create the issuer, use the kubectl apply -f cluster-issuer.yaml command.

$ kubectl apply -f cluster-issuer.yaml created

Create a certificate object

Next, a certificate resource must be created. The certificate resource defines the desired X.509 certificate. For more information, see cert-manager certificates.

Create the certificate resource, such as certificates.yaml, with the following example manifest. Update the dnsNames and domains to the DNS name you created in a previous step. If you use an internal-only ingress controller, specify the internal DNS name for your service.

kind: Certificate
  name: tls-secret
  secretName: tls-secret
    - http01:
        ingressClass: nginx
    name: letsencrypt-staging
    kind: ClusterIssuer

To create the certificate resource, use the kubectl apply -f certificates.yaml command.

$ kubectl apply -f certificates.yaml created

Run demo applications

An ingress controller and a certificate management solution have been configured. Now let's run two demo applications in your AKS cluster. In this example, Helm is used to deploy two instances of a simple 'Hello world' application.

Before you can install the sample Helm charts, add the Azure samples repository to your Helm environment as follows:

helm repo add azure-samples

Create the first demo application from a Helm chart with the following command:

helm install azure-samples/aks-helloworld

Now install a second instance of the demo application. For the second instance, you specify a new title so that the two applications are visually distinct. You also specify a unique service name:

helm install azure-samples/aks-helloworld --set title="AKS Ingress Demo" --set serviceName="ingress-demo"

Create an ingress route

Both applications are now running on your Kubernetes cluster, however they're configured with a service of type ClusterIP. As such, the applications aren't accessible from the internet. To make them publicly available, create a Kubernetes ingress resource. The ingress resource configures the rules that route traffic to one of the two applications.

In the following example, traffic to the address is routed to the service named aks-helloworld. Traffic to the address is routed to the ingress-demo service. Update the hosts and host to the DNS name you created in a previous step.

Create a file named hello-world-ingress.yaml and copy in the following example YAML.

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Ingress
  name: hello-world-ingress
  annotations: nginx letsencrypt-staging /
  - hosts:
    secretName: tls-secret
  - host:
      - path: /
          serviceName: aks-helloworld
          servicePort: 80
      - path: /hello-world-two
          serviceName: ingress-demo
          servicePort: 80

Create the ingress resource using the kubectl apply -f hello-world-ingress.yaml command.

$ kubectl apply -f hello-world-ingress.yaml

ingress.extensions/hello-world-ingress created

Test the ingress configuration

Open a web browser to the FQDN of your Kubernetes ingress controller, such as

As these examples use letsencrypt-staging, the issued SSL certificate is not trusted by the browser. Accept the warning prompt to continue to your application. The certificate information shows this Fake LE Intermediate X1 certificate is issued by Let's Encrypt. This fake certificate indicates cert-manager processed the request correctly and received a certificate from the provider:

Let's Encrypt staging certificate

When you change Let's Encrypt to use prod rather than staging, a trusted certificate issued by Let's Encrypt is used, as shown in the following example:

Let's Encrypt certificate

The demo application is shown in the web browser:

Application example one

Now add the /hello-world-two path to the FQDN, such as The second demo application with the custom title is shown:

Application example two

Clean up resources

This article used Helm to install the ingress components, certificates, and sample apps. When you deploy a Helm chart, a number of Kubernetes resources are created. These resources includes pods, deployments, and services. To clean up, first remove the certificate resources:

kubectl delete -f certificates.yaml
kubectl delete -f cluster-issuer.yaml

Now list the Helm releases with the helm list command. Look for charts named nginx-ingress, cert-manager, and aks-helloworld, as shown in the following example output:

$ helm list

NAME                    REVISION    UPDATED                     STATUS      CHART                   APP VERSION NAMESPACE
billowing-kitten        1           Tue Oct 16 17:24:05 2018    DEPLOYED    nginx-ingress-0.22.1    0.15.0      kube-system
loitering-waterbuffalo  1           Tue Oct 16 17:26:16 2018    DEPLOYED    cert-manager-v0.3.4     v0.3.2      kube-system
flabby-deer             1           Tue Oct 16 17:27:06 2018    DEPLOYED    aks-helloworld-0.1.0                default
linting-echidna         1           Tue Oct 16 17:27:02 2018    DEPLOYED    aks-helloworld-0.1.0                default

Delete the releases with the helm delete command. The following example deletes the NGINX ingress deployment, certificate manager, and the two sample AKS hello world apps.

$ helm delete billowing-kitten loitering-waterbuffalo flabby-deer linting-echidna

release "billowing-kitten" deleted
release "loitering-waterbuffalo" deleted
release "flabby-deer" deleted
release "linting-echidna" deleted

Next, remove the Helm repo for the AKS hello world app:

helm repo remove azure-samples

Finally, remove the ingress route that directed traffic to the sample apps:

kubectl delete -f hello-world-ingress.yaml

Next steps

This article included some external components to AKS. To learn more about these components, see the following project pages:

You can also: