Continuous deployment with Jenkins and Azure Kubernetes Service

This document demonstrates how to set up a basic continuous deployment workflow between Jenkins and an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster.

The example workflow includes the following steps:

  • Deploy the Azure vote application to your Kubernetes cluster.
  • Update the Azure vote application code and push to a GitHub repository, which starts the continuous deployment process.
  • Jenkins clones the repository, and builds a new container image with the updated code.
  • This image is pushed to Azure Container Registry (ACR).
  • The application running in the AKS cluster is updated with the new container image.


You need the following items in order to complete the steps in this article.

Prepare application

The Azure vote application used throughout this document contains a web interface hosted in one or more pods, and a second pod hosting Redis for temporary data storage.

Before building the Jenkins / AKS integration, prepare and deploy the Azure vote application to your AKS cluster. Think of this as version one of the application.

Fork the following GitHub repository.

Once the fork has been created, clone it your development system. Ensure that you are using the URL of your fork when cloning this repo.

git clone<your-github-account>/azure-voting-app-redis.git

Change directories so that you are working from the cloned directory.

cd azure-voting-app-redis

Run the docker-compose.yaml file to create the azure-vote-front container image and start the application.

docker-compose up -d

When completed, use the docker images command to see the created image.

Notice that three images have been downloaded or created. The azure-vote-front image contains the application and uses the nginx-flask image as a base. The redis image is used to start a Redis instance.

$ docker images

REPOSITORY                   TAG        IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
azure-vote-front             latest     9cc914e25834        40 seconds ago      694MB
redis                        latest     a1b99da73d05        7 days ago          106MB
tiangolo/uwsgi-nginx-flask   flask      788ca94b2313        9 months ago        694MB

Get the ACR login server with the az acr list command. Make sure to update the resource group name with the resource group hosting your ACR registry.

az acr list --resource-group myResourceGroup --query "[].{acrLoginServer:loginServer}" --output table

Use the docker tag command to tag the image with the login server name and a version number of v1.

docker tag azure-vote-front <acrLoginServer>/azure-vote-front:v1

Update the ACR login server value with your ACR login server name, and push the azure-vote-front image to the registry.

docker push <acrLoginServer>/azure-vote-front:v1

Deploy application to Kubernetes

A Kubernetes manifest file can be found at the root of the Azure vote repository and can be used to deploy the application to your Kubernetes cluster.

First, update the azure-vote-all-in-one-redis.yaml manifest file with the location of your ACR registry. Open the file with any text editor and replace microsoft with the ACR login server name. This value is found on line 47 of the manifest file.

- name: azure-vote-front
  image: microsoft/azure-vote-front:v1

Next, use the kubectl apply command to run the application. This command parses the manifest file and creates the defined Kubernetes objects.

kubectl apply -f azure-vote-all-in-one-redis.yaml

A Kubernetes service is created to expose the application to the internet. This process can take a few minutes.

To monitor progress, use the kubectl get service command with the --watch argument.

kubectl get service azure-vote-front --watch

Initially the EXTERNAL-IP for the azure-vote-front service appears as pending.

azure-vote-front   <pending>     80:30676/TCP   7s

Once the EXTERNAL-IP address has changed from pending to an IP address, use control+c to stop the kubectl watch process.

azure-vote-front   80:30676/TCP   2m

To see the application, browse to the external IP address.

Image of Kubernetes cluster on Azure

Deploy Jenkins to VM

A script has been pre-created to deploy a virtual machine, configure network access, and complete a basic installation of Jenkins. Additionally, the script copies your Kubernetes configuration file from your development system to the Jenkins system. This file is used for authentication between Jenkins and the AKS cluster.

Run the following commands to download and run the script. The below URL can also be used to review the content of the script.

curl >

When the script has completed, it outputs an address for the Jenkins server, as well a key to unlock Jenkins. Browse to the URL, enter the key, and following the on-screen prompts to complete the Jenkins configuration.

Open a browser to
Enter the following to Unlock Jenkins:

Jenkins environment variables

A Jenkins environment variable is used to hold Azure Container Registry (ACR) login server name. This variable is referenced during the Jenkins continuous deployment job.

While on the Jenkins admin portal, click Manage Jenkins > Configure System.

Under Global Properties, select Environment variables, and add a variable with the name ACR_LOGINSERVER and a value of your ACR login server.

Jenkins environment variables

When complete, click Save on the Jenkins configuration page.

Jenkins credentials

Now store your ACR credentials in a Jenkins credential object. These credentials are referenced during the Jenkins build job.

Back on the Jenkins admin portal, click Credentials > Jenkins > Global credentials (unrestricted) > Add Credentials.

Ensure that the credential kind is Username with password and enter the following items:

  • Username - ID of the service principal use for authentication with your ACR registry.
  • Password - Client secret of the service principal use for authentication with your ACR registry.
  • ID - Credential identifier such as acr-credentials.

When complete, the credentials form should look similar to this image:

ACR credentials

Click OK and return to the Jenkins admin portal.

Create Jenkins project

From the Jenkins admin portal, click New Item.

Give the project a name, for example azure-vote, select Freestyle Project, and click OK.

Jenkins project

Under General, select GitHub project and enter the URL to your fork of the Azure vote GitHub project.

GitHub project

Under Source Code Management, select Git, enter the URL to your fork of the Azure Vote GitHub repo.

For the credentials, click on and Add > Jenkins. Under Kind, select Secret text and enter your GitHub personal access token as the secret.

Select Add when done.

GitHub credentials

Under Build Triggers, select GitHub hook trigger for GITScm polling.

Jenkins build triggers

Under Build Environment, select Use secret texts or files.

Jenkins build environment

Under Bindings, select Add > Username and password (separated).

Enter ACR_ID for the Username Variable, and ACR_PASSWORD for the Password Variable.

Jenkins bindings

Add a Build Step of type Execute shell and use the following text. This script builds a new container image and pushes it to your ACR registry.

# Build new image and push to ACR.
docker build -t $WEB_IMAGE_NAME ./azure-vote
docker login ${ACR_LOGINSERVER} -u ${ACR_ID} -p ${ACR_PASSWORD}
docker push $WEB_IMAGE_NAME

Add another Build Step of type Execute shell and use the following text. This script updates the Kubernetes deployment.

# Update kubernetes deployment with new image.
kubectl set image deployment/azure-vote-front azure-vote-front=$WEB_IMAGE_NAME --kubeconfig /var/lib/jenkins/config

Once completed, click Save.

Test the Jenkins build

Before proceeding, test the Jenkins build. This validates that the build job has been correctly configured, the proper Kubernetes authentication file is in place, and that the proper ACR credentials have been provided.

Click Build Now in the left-hand menu of the project.

Jenkins test build

During this process, the GitHub repository is cloned to the Jenkins build server. A new container image is built and pushed to the ACR registry. Finally, the Azure vote application running on the AKS cluster is updated to use the new image. Because no changes have been made to the application code, the application is not changed.

Once the process is complete, click on build #1 under build history and select Console Output to see all output from the build process. The final line should indicate a successful build.

Create GitHub webhook

Next, hook the application repository to the Jenkins build server so that on any commit, a new build is triggered.

  1. Browse to the forked GitHub repository.
  2. Select Settings, then select Integrations & services on the left-hand side.
  3. Choose Add Service, enter Jenkins (GitHub plugin) in the filter box, and select the plugin.
  4. For the Jenkins hook URL, enter http://<publicIp:8080>/github-webhook/ where publicIp is the IP address of the Jenkins server. Make sure to include the trailing /.
  5. Select Add service.

GitHub webhook

Test CI/CD process end to end

On your development machine, open up the cloned application with a code editor.

Under the /azure-vote/azure-vote directory, find a file named config_file.cfg. Update the vote values in this file to something other than cats and dogs.

The following example shows and updated config_file.cfg file.

# UI Configurations
TITLE = 'Azure Voting App'
VOTE2VALUE = 'Purple'
SHOWHOST = 'false'

When complete, save the file, commit the changes, and push these to your fork of the GitHub repository.. Once the commit has completed, the GitHub webhook triggers a new Jenkins build, which updates the container image, and the AKS deployment. Monitor the build process on the Jenkins admin console.

Once the build has completed, browse again to the application endpoint to observe the changes.

Azure vote updated

At this point, a simple continuous deployment process has been completed. The steps and configurations shown in this example can be used to build out a more robust and production-ready continuous build automation.