Kubernetes is a world-renowned orchestration engine for managing containerised workloads and cloud-native applications in production. While the technology is complex to operate, the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) has simplified the process of setting up a Kubernetes cluster on Azure, making Kubernetes more accessible than ever to Azure developers. With AKS, businesses are able to create fully-managed Kubernetes clusters quickly and easily.
What is Azure Kubernetes Service?
Today, modern applications are commonly built using containers, with microservices packaged with their dependencies and configurations. However, as applications have grown to span multiple containers across multiple servers, operating them has become more complex. To manage this complexity, Kubernetes delivers an open-source API that handles how and where those containers will run. AKS is an open-source, fully managed container orchestration service for managing containers at scale. Available on the Microsoft Azure public cloud, AKS is used for the deployment, scaling and management of containers in a cluster environment. The service delivers provision, scaling and upgrading of resources on demand with minimal downtime and can be administered without extensive knowledge and expertise in container orchestration. With AKS, you can build, deliver and scale containerised apps faster than ever.
How Does Azure Kubernetes Service Work?
Kubernetes manages clusters of virtual machines and schedules containers to run on those machines based on their available compute resource and the resource demands of each container. These containers are then grouped into pods, the primary operational unit for Kubernetes, that can be scaled to meet the required state. Other functions of Azure Kubernetes include service discovery, load balancing and resource allocation tracking. What’s more, the platform is able to verify the health of resources and automatically restart or replicate containers to fix application problems.
Azure Kubernetes Service includes some key features, including:
- Nodes and Clusters – in AKS, apps and their supporting services are run on nodes, with the AKS cluster being a combination of one or more nodes. Nodes run on Azure Virtual Machines and are grouped together into node pools based on their configuration. Nodes can be scaled-up or down according to the resource required in a cluster, making them a primary component of the Azure Kubernetes environment.
- Development Tool Integration – development tools such as Helm and Draft are integrated with AKS to deliver a faster and more iterative development experience. AKS also supports Docker image format and can integrate with Azure Container Registry (ACR) to deliver storage for Docker images.
The Benefits of Azure Kubernetes
Keeping containerised applications up and running can be incredibly complicated, with many containers deployed across several machines. Azure Kubernetes delivers a much easier way to not only schedule and deploy containers but also to scale and manage their life cycles with ease. By using Kubernetes to implement your container-based applications, you can benefit from the following:
- Effective Resource Management – not only can you deploy and maintain containerised apps easily, but you also have access to elastically-provisioned resources without needing to maintain the underlying infrastructure.
- Reduced Development Time – AKS reduces the amount of time developers spend on bug fixes and handles patching, auto-upgrades and self-healing automatically. This means developers are able to focus on other areas of development.
- Improved Security and Compliance – not only does AKS comply with all the relevant standards and regulatory requirements, it connects directly with other Azure services to deliver on-demand access to advanced security measures, reducing business risk.
- Role-Based-Access-Control – by connecting with Azure Active Directory (AD), AKS enables identity and group role-based access, security and monitoring of Kubernetes architecture, enabling you to easily keep track of your applications.
- Workload Compatibility – it’s possible to run any workload and orchestrate any form task in AKS, whether it’s migrating .NET applications to Windows, modernising Java applications in Linux or executing microservices in AKS.
- Operational Excellence – achieve high availability and fault tolerance, elastically provision compute capacity and gain insight and visibility into your AKS environment to ensure you achieve operational excellence at all times.
- Cost Savings – as a free container orchestration service, AKS is incredibly cost-effective, you only pay for the cloud resources you use and you have the power to monitor and control your Kubernetes environment to ensure costs remain optimised.
Azure Kubernetes Service Use Cases
Kubernetes is useful in a wide range of scenarios, running from migrating applications to the cloud to simplifying the challenges of advanced technologies like machine learning and AI. Some of its key use cases include:
- Application Migration – migrate existing apps to containers and run them with AKS in the cloud, removing the requirement for significant investment in new business logic.
- Microservices Management – simplify the management of microservices-based apps and streamline load balancing, horizontal scaling and self-healing.
- DevOps Integration – bring Kubernetes and DevOps together to improve the security and speed of the development process with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery policy controls.
- Container Scaling – use AKS virtual nodes to provision pods inside Azure Container Instance (ACI) and enable ASK to run with the required resources. If your container runs out of resources, it will scale-out additional pods automatically.
- Data Streaming – absorb and process real-time data streams with data points via sensors and IoT applications and perform quick analysis.
Will Your Next Project Use Azure Kubernetes?
Microsoft has invested a huge amount of enterprise commitment into its open-source Kubernetes environment. Azure Kubernetes is business-oriented, cloud-native and accessible and brings together best practices and advanced learning to the growing Kubernetes community. With AKS, it’s easier than ever for businesses and developers to construct solution architectures in the cloud. AKS removes implementation, installation, maintenance and security complexities while at the same time reducing costs. AKS is a robust and cost-effective container orchestration service that can help you to deploy and manage containerised applications in seconds and add additional resources automatically without the complexities of managing additional servers. You can run or migrate any workload in the Kubernetes environment and access everything easily via the management portal, giving you complete oversight of your operations.