Create Service Fabric clusters on Windows Server or Linux

A Service Fabric cluster is a network-connected set of virtual or physical machines into which your microservices are deployed and managed. A machine or VM that is part of a cluster is called a cluster node. Clusters can scale to thousands of nodes. If you add new nodes to the cluster, Service Fabric rebalances the service partition replicas and instances across the increased number of nodes. Overall application performance improves and contention for access to memory decreases. If the nodes in the cluster are not being used efficiently, you can decrease the number of nodes in the cluster. Service Fabric again rebalances the partition replicas and instances across the decreased number of nodes to make better use of the hardware on each node.

Service Fabric allows for the creation of Service Fabric clusters on any VMs or computers running Windows Server or Linux. This means you are able to deploy and run Service Fabric applications in any environment where you have a set of Windows Server or Linux computers that are interconnected, be it on-premises, Microsoft Azure or with any cloud provider.

Create Service Fabric clusters on Azure

Creating a cluster on Azure is done either via a Resource Model template or the Azure portal. Read Create a Service Fabric cluster by using a Resource Manager template or Create a Service Fabric cluster from the Azure portal for more information.

Supported operating systems for clusters on Azure

You are able to create clusters on virtual machines running these operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 1709
  • Windows Server 1803
  • Linux Ubuntu 16.04
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 (preview support)


If you decide to deploy Service Fabric on Windows Server 1709, please note that (1) it is not a long term servicing branch, so you may have to move versions in the future, and (2) if you deploy containers, containers built on Windows Server 2016 do not work on Windows Server 1709, and vice versa (you will have to rebuild them to deploy them).

Create Service Fabric standalone clusters on-premises or with any cloud provider

Service Fabric provides an install package for you to create standalone Service Fabric clusters on-premises or on any cloud provider.

For more information on setting up standalone Service Fabric clusters on Windows Server, read Service Fabric cluster creation for Windows Server


Standalone clusters currently aren't supported for Linux. Linux is supported on one-box for development and Azure Linux multi-machine clusters.

Any cloud deployments vs. on-premises deployments

The process for creating a Service Fabric cluster on-premises is similar to the process of creating a cluster on any cloud of your choice with a set of VMs. The initial steps to provision the VMs are governed by the cloud provider or on-premises environment that you are using. Once you have a set of VMs with network connectivity enabled between them, then the steps to set up the Service Fabric package, edit the cluster settings, and run the cluster creation and management scripts are identical. This ensures that your knowledge and experience of operating and managing Service Fabric clusters is transferable when you choose to target new hosting environments.

Benefits of creating standalone Service Fabric clusters

  • You are free to choose any cloud provider to host your cluster.
  • Service Fabric applications, once written, can be run in multiple hosting environments with minimal to no changes.
  • Knowledge of building Service Fabric applications carries over from one hosting environment to another.
  • Operational experience of running and managing Service Fabric clusters carries over from one environment to another.
  • Broad customer reach is unbounded by hosting environment constraints.
  • An extra layer of reliability and protection against widespread outages exists because you can move the services over to another deployment environment if a data center or cloud provider has a blackout.

Supported operating systems for standalone clusters

You are able to create clusters on VMs or computers running these operating systems (Linux is not yet supported):

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

Advantages of Service Fabric clusters on Azure over standalone Service Fabric clusters created on-premises

Running Service Fabric clusters on Azure provides advantages over the on-premises option, so if you don't have specific needs for where you run your clusters, then we suggest that you run them on Azure. On Azure, we provide integration with other Azure features and services, which makes operations and management of the cluster easier and more reliable.

  • Azure portal: Azure portal makes it easy to create and manage clusters.
  • Azure Resource Manager: Use of Azure Resource Manager allows easy management of all resources used by the cluster as a unit and simplifies cost tracking and billing.
  • Service Fabric Cluster as an Azure Resource A Service Fabric cluster is an Azure resource, so you can model it like you do other resources in Azure.
  • Integration with Azure Infrastructure Service Fabric coordinates with the underlying Azure infrastructure for OS, network, and other upgrades to improve availability and reliability of your applications.
  • Diagnostics: On Azure, we provide integration with Azure diagnostics and Log Analytics.
  • Auto-scaling: For clusters on Azure, we provide built-in auto-scaling functionality due to Virtual Machine scale-sets. In on-premises and other cloud environments, you have to build your own auto-scaling feature or scale manually using the APIs that Service Fabric exposes for scaling clusters.

Next steps