Exercise - Deploy MongoDB


The Fruit Smoothies' ratings website consists of several components. There's a web front end, a document database that stores captured data, and a RESTful API that allows the web front end to communicate with the database. The development team is using MongoDB as the document store database of choice for the ratings website.

In this exercise, you'll deploy MongoDB to the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster using Helm. You'll also see how to use a Kubernetes secret to store the MongoDB connection username and password.

This example architecture deploys MongoDB on the cluster for the application to use to store data. While this is acceptable for test and development environments, it's not recommended for production environments. For production, it's recommended to store your application state and data in a scalable data storage platform, such as CosmosDB.

In this exercise, you will:

  • Configure the Helm stable repository
  • Install the MongoDB chart
  • Create a Kubernetes secret to hold database credentials

Diagram that shows the deployed resources on the Azure Kubernetes Service cluster.

Add the Helm bitnami repository

Helm is an application package manager for Kubernetes. It offers a way to easily deploy applications and services using charts.

The Helm client is already installed in Azure Cloud Shell and can be run with the helm command. Helm provides a standard repository of charts for many different software packages. Helm has a chart for MongoDB that is part of the official Helm bitnami charts repository.

  1. Configure the Helm client to use the stable repository by running the following helm repo add command.

    helm repo add bitnami https://charts.bitnami.com/bitnami
  2. You can now list the charts to install by running the helm search repo command. Notice how you can list all charts from the stable channel in the following command.

    helm search repo bitnami

    You'll see a list of the available charts, like this example.

    NAME                           CHART VERSION   APP VERSION   DESCRIPTION
    bitnami/bitnami-common                  0.0.8           0.0.8                   Chart with custom templates used in Bitnami cha...
    bitnami/airflow                         6.1.8           1.10.10                 Apache Airflow is a platform to programmaticall...
    bitnami/apache                          7.3.15          2.4.43                  Chart for Apache HTTP Server
    bitnami/cassandra                       5.3.3           3.11.6                  Apache Cassandra is a free and open-source dist...

Install a Helm chart

A Helm chart is a collection of files that describe a related set of Kubernetes resources. You can use a single chart to deploy something simple, like a memcached pod, or something complex, like a full web app stack with HTTP servers, databases, and caches.

Helm charts are stored in Helm chart repositories. The official chart repository is maintained on GitHub. The Helm Hub provides a way to discover and view documentation of such charts.

You're now ready to install the MonogoDB instance. Recall from earlier, that you configured your cluster with a ratingsapp namespace. You'll specify the namespace as part of the helm install command, and a name for the database release. The release is called ratings and is deployed into the ratingsapp namespace.

  1. Run the following helm install command. Make sure to replace <username> and <password> with appropriate values of your choice, and note them for later use.

    Keep in mind that the MongoDB connection string is a URI. You have to escape special characters using a standard URI escape mechanism when choosing special characters in the username or password.

    helm install ratings bitnami/mongodb \
        --namespace ratingsapp \
        --set auth.username=<username>,auth.password=<password>,auth.database=ratingsdb

    You provide parameters with the --set switch and a comma-separated list of key=value pairs. Pay attention to the auth.username, auth.password, and auth.database parameters and their values, which set the username, password, and database name, respectively. The application expects that the database is called ratingsdb. The helm install command is a powerful command with many capabilities.

  2. After the installation is finished, you should get an output similar to this example. Make a note of the MongoDB host, which should be ratings-mongodb.ratingsapp.svc.cluster.local, if you used the same parameters.

    NAME: ratings
    LAST DEPLOYED: Thu Apr 30 14:15:58 2020
    NAMESPACE: ratingsapp
    STATUS: deployed
    TEST SUITE: None
    ** Please be patient while the chart is being deployed **
    MongoDB can be accessed via port 27017 on the following DNS name from within your cluster:
    To get the root password run:
    export MONGODB_ROOT_PASSWORD=$(kubectl get secret --namespace ratingsapp ratings-mongodb -o jsonpath="{.data.mongodb-root-password}" |  base64 --decode)
    To get the password for "aksclusteradmin" run:
    export MONGODB_PASSWORD=$(kubectl get secret --namespace ratingsapp ratings-mongodb -o jsonpath="{.data.mongodb-password}" | base64 --decode)
    To connect to your database run the following command:
    kubectl run --namespace ratingsapp ratings-mongodb-client --rm --tty -i --restart='Never' --image docker.io/bitnami/mongodb:4.2.6-debian-10-r13 --command -- mongo admin --host ratings-mongodb --authenticationDatabase admin -u root -p $MONGODB_ROOT_PASSWORD
    To connect to your database from outside the cluster execute the following commands:
    kubectl port-forward --namespace ratingsapp svc/ratings-mongodb 27017:27017 &
    mongo --host --authenticationDatabase admin -p $MONGODB_ROOT_PASSWORD

    Keep in mind that you can easily remove a Helm release by running the helm uninstall command. The full command is helm uninstall ratings --namespace ratingsapp. In this exercise, uninstalling a chart should only be necessary if you made a mistake specifying a non-escaped username or password.

Create a Kubernetes secret to hold the MongoDB details

In the previous step, you installed MongoDB using Helm, with a specified username, password, and database name. Now you'll store these details in a Kubernetes secret. This step ensures that you don't leak secrets by hardcoding them into configuration files.

Kubernetes has a concept of secrets. Secrets let you store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords. Putting this information in a secret is safer and more flexible than hardcoding it in a pod definition or a container image.

The ratings API expects to find the connection details to the MongoDB database in the form of mongodb://<username>:<password>@<endpoint>:27017/ratingsdb. Replace <username>, <password>, and <endpoint> with the ones you used when you created the database, for example, mongodb://ratingsuser:ratingspassword@ratings-mongodb.ratingsapp:27017/ratingsdb.

  1. Use the kubectl create secret generic command to create a secret called mongosecret in the ratingsapp namespace. A Kubernetes secret can hold several items and is indexed by a key. In this case, the secret contains only one key, called MONGOCONNECTION. The value is the constructed connection string from the previous step. Replace <username> and <password> with the ones you used when you created the database.

    kubectl create secret generic mongosecret \
        --namespace ratingsapp \
  2. Run the kubectl describe secret command to validate that the secret.

    kubectl describe secret mongosecret --namespace ratingsapp

    The output from this command looks similar to this example.

    Name:         mongosecret
    Namespace:    ratingsapp
    Labels:       <none>
    Annotations:  <none>
    Type:  Opaque
    MONGOCONNECTION:  98 bytes

You now have an AKS cluster with a configured MongoDB database in a namespace called ratingsapp. In this namespace, you'll find the following resources:

  • Deployment/ratings-mongodb: A deployment represents one or more identical pods managed by the Kubernetes Deployment Controller. This deployment defines the number of replicas (pods) to create for MongoDB. The Kubernetes Scheduler ensures that if pods or nodes encounter problems, additional pods are scheduled on healthy nodes.

  • Pod/ratings-mongodb-{random-string}: Kubernetes uses pods to run an instance of MongoDB.

  • Service/ratings-mongodb: To simplify the network configuration, Kubernetes uses services to group a set of pods and provide network connectivity logically. Connectivity to the MongoDB database is exposed via this service through the DNS name ratings-mongodb.ratingsapp.svc.cluster.local.

  • Secret/mongosecret: A Kubernetes secret is used to inject sensitive data into pods, such as access credentials or keys. This secret holds the MongoDB connection details. You'll use it in the next unit to configure the API to communicate with MongoDB.


In this exercise, you configured the Helm stable repository, then used a Helm chart to deploy MongoDB to your cluster. You then created a Kubernetes secret to hold database credentials.

Next, you'll deploy the Fruit Smoothies ratings-api to your AKS cluster.