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Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

Unite your development and operations teams on a single platform to rapidly build, deliver, and scale applications with confidence

Application development continues to move toward a container-based approach, increasing our need to orchestrate and manage resources. As the leading platform, Kubernetes provides reliable scheduling of fault-tolerant application workloads. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), a managed Kubernetes offering, further simplifies container-based application deployment and management.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is a rapidly evolving platform that manages container-based applications and their associated networking and storage components. Kubernetes focuses on the application workloads, not the underlying infrastructure components. Kubernetes provides a declarative approach to deployments, backed by a robust set of APIs for management operations.

You can build and run modern, portable, microservices-based applications, using Kubernetes to orchestrate and manage the availability of the application components. Kubernetes supports both stateless and stateful applications as teams progress through the adoption of microservices-based applications.

As an open platform, Kubernetes allows you to build your applications with your preferred programming language, OS, libraries, or messaging bus. Existing continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools can integrate with Kubernetes to schedule and deploy releases.

AKS provides a managed Kubernetes service that reduces the complexity of deployment and core management tasks, like upgrade coordination. The Azure platform manages the AKS control plane, and you only pay for the AKS nodes that run your applications.

Kubernetes Cluster Architecture

A Kubernetes cluster is divided into two key components

  • Control Plane: Provides the core Kubernetes services and orchestration of application workloads.
  • Nodes: Run your application workloads.
azure kubernetes architecture

Control Plane

When you create an AKS cluster, a control plane is automatically created and configured. This control plane is provided at no cost as a managed Azure resource abstracted from the user. You only pay for the nodes attached to the AKS cluster. The control plane and its resources reside only on the region where you created the cluster.

AKS provides a single-tenant control plane, with a dedicated API server, scheduler, etc. You define the number and size of the nodes, and the Azure platform configures the secure communication between the control plane and nodes. Interaction with the control plane occurs through Kubernetes APIs, such as kubectl or the Kubernetes dashboard.

While you don’t need to configure components (like a highly available etcd store) with this managed control plane, you can’t access the control plane directly. Kubernetes control plane and node upgrades are orchestrated through the Azure CLI or Azure portal. To troubleshoot possible issues, you can review the control plane logs through Azure Monitor logs.

Nodes and node pools

To run your applications and supporting services, you need a Kubernetes node. An AKS cluster has at least one node, an Azure virtual machine (VM) that runs the Kubernetes node components and container runtime.

The Azure VM size for your nodes defines the storage CPUs, memory, size, and type available (such as high-performance SSD or regular HDD). Plan the node size around whether your applications may require large amounts of CPU and memory or high-performance storage. Scale out the number of nodes in your AKS cluster to meet demand.

In AKS, the VM image for your cluster’s nodes is based on Ubuntu Linux or Windows Server 2019. When you create an AKS cluster or scale out the number of nodes, the Azure platform automatically creates and configures the requested number of VMs. Agent nodes are billed as standard VMs, so any VM size discounts (including Azure reservations) are automatically applied.

Deploy your own Kubernetes cluster with aks-engine if using a different host OS, container runtime, or including different custom packages. The upstream aks-engine releases features and provides configuration options ahead of support in AKS clusters. So, if you wish to use a container runtime other than containerd or Docker, you can run aks-engine to configure and deploy a Kubernetes cluster that meets your current needs.

Azure Kubernetes Service Benefits

  • Efficient resource utilization: The fully managed AKS offers easy deployment and management of containerized applications with efficient resource utilization that elastically provisions additional resources without the headache of managing the Kubernetes infrastructure.
  • Faster application development: Developers spent most of the time on bug-fixing. AKS reduces the debugging time while handling patching, auto-upgrades, and self-healing and simplifies the container orchestration. It definitely saves a lot of time and developers will focus on developing their apps while remaining more productive.
  • Security and compliance: Cybersecurity is one of the most important aspects of modern applications and businesses. AKS integrates with Azure Active Directory (AD) and offers on-demand access to the users to greatly reduce threats and risks. AKS is also completely compliant with the standards and regulatory requirements such as System and Organization Controls (SOC), HIPAA, ISO, and PCI DSS.
  • Quicker development and integration: Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) supports auto-upgrades, monitoring, and scaling and helps in minimizing the infrastructure maintenance that leads to comparatively faster development and integration. It also supports provisioning additional compute resources in Serverless Kubernetes within seconds without worrying about managing the Kubernetes infrastructure.

When to use AKS?

  • Migration of existing applications: You can easily migrate existing apps to containers and run them with Azure Kubernetes Service. You can also control access via Azure AD integration and SLA-based Azure Services like Azure Database using Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA).
  • Simplifying the configuration and management of microservices-based Apps: You can also simplify the development and management of microservices-based apps as well as streamline load balancing, horizontal scaling, self-healing, and secret management with AKS.
  • Bringing DevOps and Kubernetes together: AKS is also a reliable resource to bring Kubernetes and DevOps together for securing DevOps implementation with Kubernetes. Bringing both together, it improves the security and speed of the development process with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) with dynamic policy controls.
  • Ease of scaling: AKS can also be applied in many other use cases such as ease of scaling by using Azure Container Instances (ACI) and AKS. By doing this, you can use AKS virtual node to provision pods inside Azure Container Instance (ACI) that start within a few seconds and enables AKS to run with required resources. If your AKS cluster is run out of resources, if will scale-out additional pods automatically without any additional servers to manage in the Kubernetes environment.
  • Data streaming: AKS can also be used to ingest and process real-time data streams with data points via sensors and perform quick analysis.

Today’s businesses are transforming from on-premises to the cloud very quickly while building and managing modern and cloud-native applications. Kubernetes is one of the solutions that is open-sourced and supports building and deploying cloud-native apps with complete orchestration. Azure Kubernetes Service is a robust and cost-effective container orchestration service that helps you to deploy and manage containerized applications in seconds where additional resources are assigned automatically without the headache of managing additional servers.

If you’d like assistance in leveraging Azure Kubernetes Services within your Application Development workflow, please send the Azure experts at Oakwood today.

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