Simplify your AKS IaC Deployments using the AKS Construction Helper tool

After designing and architecting AKS the next step is to deploy your cluster/s. It is ideal to build your AKS deployments out as code.

This means taking your Azure infrastructure & AKS cluster/s design and scripting them as IaC (Infrastructure as Code). Scripting the AKS deployment vs manually deploying gives you documentation as code, standardization, & a templatized deployment for repeatability. You can deploy this code as is, place it in a pipeline for ease of deployment, in inner-source, or in a service catalog for access by multiple teams.

Microsoft has built a tool named the AKS Construction helper to accelerate building out your IaC for AKS. This tool is not as well-known as it should be. I wanted to blog about this tool to share this great resource that will save you tons of time. The AKS Construction helper was originally launched by Keith Howling of Microsoft. The core contributors to this tool have been Gordon Byers and Keith Howling with contributions from others as well.

The AKS Construction helper unifies guidance provided by the AKS Secure BaselineWell Architected FrameworkCloud Adoption Framework, and Enterprise-Scale. It also is part of the official AKS Landing Zone Accelerator (Enterprise Scale). The AKS Construction helper lets you configure your AKS deployment using wizard/form style selections. After you complete your selections the tool gives you IaC code that you can copy to perform the AKS Deployment/s. You can get code for Az CLI, a Github Actions workflow, Terraform, or a Parameters file that can be used with an ARM Template.

Let’s go ahead and take a tour of the tool.

The tool lets you select Operations Principles or Enterprise-Scale path for configuring the options.

This helps narrow down the overall design requirements of your AKS deployment.

The next section of the AKS Construction helper is to fine-tune your AKS deployment. This gives you the chance to tweak things like the cluster name, K8s version, resource group, region, to be created, IP and Cider, initial RBAC, SLA, autoscaling, upgrade configuration, cluster networking, add ons such as an ingress controller (App Gateway, NGINX, etc), monitoring such as Azure Monitor, Azure policy, service mesh, secret storage, Keda, GitOps with Flux, and even has a few options to deploy some sample apps. This is done across 5 tabs in the Fine tine and Deploy section.

After you have set all of the configurations for your cluster there is code available for you to copy on the Deploy tab. Again you have options for Az CLI, a Github Actions workflow, Terraform scripts or an ARM Template Parameters file. Running the deployment code will deploy your AKS cluster exactly how you have it configured in the AKS Construction helper tool. 

What if you are not ready to deploy your AKS Clusters now but you do not want to lose your configuration? The tool has you covered. At the end of the Deploy Cluster code you can click the link as shown in the screenshot to get a URL for your configuration.

The URL will look similar to this:

https://azure.github.io/AKS-Construction/?deploy.deployItemKey=deployArmCli&ops=oss&preset=defaultOps&deploy.location=EastUS2&addons.ingress=nginx&addons.monitor=aci&addons.openServiceMeshAddon=true&addons.fluxGitOpsAddon=true

You can access this URL at any time to pick up where you left off with your AKS deployment configuration.

That brings us to the end of this blog post. Stop wasting time, head over to the tool, and start using this for all of your AKS Deployments. Here are the links for the tool:

The wizard-driven tool can be found here:

https://azure.github.io/AKS-Construction

The GitHub Repository for the tool can be found here:

https://github.com/Azure/AKS-Construction

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Cloudbusting Podcast Guest EP130 – Diving into Jucy Lucy, & Root Canal’s with a little Kubernetes, Azure Arc, & GitOps on the side

This was a fun podcast with Jez Ward, and Dave Chapman of Cloudreach. They run a podcast called Cloudbusting. On the podcast they focus on transformation, leadership, ways of working and emerging technology they explore the significant impact that cloud is having on people and businesses.

On this podcast episode, we set out to answer very important questions such as what are Jucy Lucy’s?, what are root Canals like today? oh, and yeah we also spend some time talking about what Containers, Kubernetes, & GitOps are and how they fit in the cloud.

Check out the podcast episode here:

https://www.cloudreach.com/en/podcasts/diving-into-kubernetes-azure-arc-gitops-episode-130

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Azure Arc Book Published

I am excited to kick off the new year announcing that my 8th book has been published! This book is “Azure Arc-Enabled Kubernetes and Servers“.

I had the honor to co-author this book with a long-time friend and fellow Microsoft MVP John Joyner. This is John’s latest book since his last 8 years ago!

The forward was written by Thomas Maurer a former MVP and now Microsoft Azure Evangelist. This book was reviewed by fellow Microsoft MVP Adnan Hendricks and a chapter contributed by a buddy of mine Fred Limmer.

This book covers an exciting technology from Microsoft exploring Azure Arc-Enabled Kubernetes and Servers. This book is for DevOps professionals, system administrators, security professionals, cloud admins, and IT professionals that are responsible for servers or Kubernetes clusters both on-premises and in the cloud.

Author copies!

This book covers:

  • Introduces the basics of hybrid, multi-cloud, and edge computing and how Azure Arc fits into that IT strategy
  • Teaches the fundamentals of Azure Resource Manager, setting the reader up with the knowledge needed on the technology that underpins Azure Arc
  • Offers insights into Azure native management tooling for managing on-premises servers and extending to other clouds
  • Details an end-to-end hybrid server monitoring scenario leveraging Azure Monitor and/or Azure Sentinel that is seamlessly delivered by Azure Arc
  • Defines a blueprint to achieve regulatory compliance with industry standards using Azure Arc, delivering Azure Policy from Azure Defender for Servers
  • Explores how Git and GitHub integrate with Azure Arc; delves into how GitOps is used with Azure Arc
  • Empowers your DevOps teams to perform tasks that typically fall under IT operations
  • Dives into how to best use Azure CLI with Azure Arc

You can order the book and watch for its official release here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1484277678

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Speaking at DevOpsDays Minneapolis 2021

I have been attended DevOpsDays Minneapolis for 4 years. Its always a great event with rockstar speakers and great content. I also always meet some great folks in the DevOps space.

This year I will be speaking at DevOpsDays Minneapolis! This is a huge honor for me as I have a lot of respect for the event organizers and its always world-class event! I will be speaking about Kubernetes and GitOps. My session can be found here: https://devopsdays.org/events/2021-minneapolis/speakers/steve-buchanan

The event is July 20th-21st. It will be a hybrid event (in-person & virtual). I will be speaking in person on the 20th.

Here is my session info:

GitOps and Kubernetes: a Winning Combo

GitOps is an emerging pattern for cloud-native applications. This operating model simplifies Kubernetes ops while simultaneously improving the developer experience. GitOps enables continuous delivery of configuration updates and application deployments to Kubernetes.

Through the lens of GitHub, Argo CD, and Azure Kubernetes Service, we’ll explore use cases and benefits, principles and practices, architecture and tooling, and what GitOps changes in our day-to-day.

Check out the full program for the event here: https://devopsdays.org/events/2021-minneapolis/program

For those that won’t be attending in person you can Live stream it on YouTube here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_L5NW8kmClZyYz-HFgKsKA

———-Update 7/21/21———-

Today I delivered my session on GitOps and Kubernetes: a Winning Combo. This was my first in-person event since the pandemic in the US started. I went on stage right after Ian Coldwater gave the keynote. Ian had an amazing keynote talking about community, how the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd impacted Minneapolis last year along with how the community came together. I presented to a crowd of a few hundred as well as another couple hundred online.

The online reach of this event was amazing. I even received a message that my session was watched by some folks in Japan!

In my session, we went on a journey through how companies should focus on being software businesses moving to digital, how the pandemic accelerated companies and consumers going digital as well as companies using Kubernetes and GitOps as a way to help power digital transformation.

The conference organizers did a great job pulling off another excellent event while ensuring everyone followed safety guidelines.

Here is the day 1 stream recording. You can find my sessions at 54:23:

NOTE: If you are interested in learning more about GitOps check out my Pluralsight course titled “GitOps: The Big Picture” here: https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/gitops-the-big-picture

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30 Minutes of Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS)

Today I went on “Tech Talk Wednesday” a podcast and radio show with Kazeem Adegboyega The topic was “30 Minutes of Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS)“. It streamed online via Microsoft Teams and aired in Lagos, Nigeria on Lagos State University (LASU) radio (95.7).

I had a great time talking with Kazeem! Even Sam Erskine made a guest appearance. If you missed the live show you can watch it on YouTube:

Or go directly to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7GCHQudCWg

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Tech Talk Wednesday Guest – Topic: Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

I am honored to be a guest next Wednesday, August 26th on the “Tech Talk Wednesday” podcast and radio show with Kazeem Adegboyega (@KazeemCanTeach)! We will be chatting about Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

This show will be streamed online via Microsoft Teams and will air in Lagos, Nigeria on Lagos State University (LASU) radio (95.7)!

One of my goals is to help spread knowledge about tech in Africa and showcase African technologists in the US. This is the first step in that journey.

Be sure to tune in. Go here to register: http://kazeem.com.ng/index.php/tech-talk

Don’t worry if you can’t make the live stream. It will be recorded and posted later on Kazeem’s website.

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New Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) book coming soon

These days the growth of Kubernetes is on fire! Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Microsoft’s managed Kubernetes offering is one of the fastest-growing products in the Azure portfolio of cloud services with no signs of slowing down. For some time me and two fellow Microsoft MVPs Janaka Rangama (@JanakaRangama) and Ned Bellavance (@Ned1313) have been working hard on an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) book. We are excited that the book has been finished and is currently in production. The publisher Apress plans to publish it on December 28th, 2019.

Besides my co-authors, we had additional rock stars to help with this project. For the Tech Review, we had the honor to work with Mike Pfeiffer (@mike_pfeiffer) Microsoft MVP, Author, Speaker, CloudSkills.fm podcast and Keiko Harada (@keikomsft) Senior Program Manager – Azure Compute – Containers. Shout out to them and huge thanks for being a part of this!

We also had the honor of the foreword being written by Brendan Burns (@brendandburns) Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft and co-founder of Kubernetes. A shout out to him and a world of thanks for taking the time to help with this project!

Books like this are only possible with a great team of people contributing to them. The book is titled “Introducing Azure Kubernetes Service: A Practical Guide to Container Orchestration” and can be pre-ordered here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1484255186 or here: https://www.apress.com/gp/book/9781484255186. Here is the cover:

In this book, we take a journey inside Docker containers, container registries, Kubernetes architecture, Kubernetes components, and core Kubectl commands. We then dive into topics around Azure Container Registry, Rancher for Kubernetes management, deep dive into AKS, package management with HELM, and using AKS in CI/CD with Azure DevOps. The goal of this book is to give the reader just enough theory and lots of practical straightforward knowledge needed to start running your own AKS cluster.

For anyone looking to work with Azure Kubernetes Service or already working with it, this book is for you! We hope you get a copy and it becomes a great tool you can use on your Kubernetes journey.

Again you can get the book here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1484255186

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