Use Helm to deploy containers on a Kubernetes cluster


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Helm is an open-source packaging tool that helps you install and manage the lifecycle of Kubernetes applications. Similar to Linux package managers such as Apt-get and Yum, Helm is used to manage Kubernetes charts, which are packages of preconfigured Kubernetes resources. This article shows you how to work with Helm on a Kubernetes cluster deployed in Azure Container Service.

Helm has two components:

  • The Helm CLI is a client that runs on your machine locally or in the cloud

  • Tiller is a server that runs on the Kubernetes cluster and manages the lifecycle of your Kubernetes applications


Helm basics

To view information about the Kubernetes cluster that you are installing Tiller and deploying your applications to, type the following command:

kubectl cluster-info 

kubectl cluster-info

After you have installed Helm, install Tiller on your Kubernetes cluster by typing the following command:

helm init --upgrade

When it completes successfully, you see output like the following:

Tiller installation

To view all the Helm charts available in the repository, type the following command:

helm search 

You see output like the following:

Helm search

To update the charts to get the latest versions, type:

helm repo update 

Deploy an Nginx ingress controller chart

To deploy an Nginx ingress controller chart, type a single command:

helm install stable/nginx-ingress 

Deploy ingress controller

If you type kubectl get svc to view all services that are running on the cluster, you see that an IP address is assigned to the ingress controller. (While the assignment is in progress, you see <pending>. It takes a couple of minutes to complete.)

After the IP address is assigned, navigate to the value of the external IP address to see the Nginx backend running.

Ingress IP address

To see a list of charts installed on your cluster, type:

helm list 

You can abbreviate the command to helm ls.

Deploy a MariaDB chart and client

Now deploy a MariaDB chart and a MariaDB client to connect to the database.

To deploy the MariaDB chart, type the following command:

helm install --name v1 stable/mariadb

where --name is a tag used for releases.


If the deployment fails, run helm repo update and try again.

To view all the charts deployed on your cluster, type:

helm list

To view all deployments running on your cluster, type:

kubectl get deployments 

Finally, to run a pod to access the client, type:

kubectl run v1-mariadb-client --rm --tty -i --image bitnami/mariadb --command -- bash  

To connect to the client, type the following command, replacing v1-mariadb with the name of your deployment:

sudo mysql –h v1-mariadb

You can now use standard SQL commands to create databases, tables, etc. For example, Create DATABASE testdb1; creates an empty database.

Next steps