Introduction to Azure Container Service (AKS)

Azure Container Service (AKS) makes it simple to create, configure, and manage a cluster of virtual machines that are preconfigured to run containerized applications. This enables you to use your existing skills, or draw upon a large and growing body of community expertise, to deploy and manage container-based applications on Microsoft Azure.

By using AKS, you can take advantage of the enterprise-grade features of Azure, while still maintaining application portability through Kubernetes and the Docker image format.

Managed Kubernetes in Azure

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

With Azure handling the management of the nodes in your AKS cluster, you no longer need to perform many tasks manually, like cluster upgrades. Because Azure handles these critical maintenance tasks for you, AKS does not provide direct access (such as with SSH) to the cluster.

Using Azure Container Service (AKS)

The goal of AKS is to provide a container hosting environment by using open-source tools and technologies that are popular among customers today. To this end, we expose the standard Kubernetes API endpoints. By using these standard endpoints, you can leverage any software that is capable of talking to a Kubernetes cluster. For example, you might choose kubectl, helm, or draft.

Creating a Kubernetes cluster using Azure Container Service (AKS)

To begin using AKS, deploy an AKS cluster with the Azure CLI or via the portal (search the Marketplace for Azure Container Service). If you are an advanced user who needs more control over the Azure Resource Manager templates, you can use the open source acs-engine project to build your own custom Kubernetes cluster and deploy it via the az CLI.

Using Kubernetes

Kubernetes automates deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It has a rich set of features including:

  • Automatic binpacking
  • Self-healing
  • Horizontal scaling
  • Service discovery and load balancing
  • Automated rollouts and rollbacks
  • Secret and configuration management
  • Storage orchestration
  • Batch execution

Videos

Azure Container Service (AKS) - Azure Friday, October 2017:

Tools for Developing and Deploying Applications on Kubernetes - Azure OpenDev, June 2017:

Learn more about deploying and managing AKS with the AKS quickstart.