Get started with Argo CD & Azure Kubernetes Service

As Kubernetes adoption continues to grow so does GitOps. GitOps has been increasing in adoption and popularity among enterprises at a fast rate as well. Here is what GitOps is: “GitOps is an operating model pattern for cloud-native applications & Kubernetes storing application & declarative infrastructure code in Git as the source of truth used for automated continuous delivery.” GitOps puts Git at the center of continuous delivery making git the Source of Truth describing the desired state of your entire system. For a deeper dive into GitOps check out my GitOps course on Pluralsight here: https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/gitops-the-big-picture

In the GitOps model, you need GitOps operators. GitOps Operators are software agents that continuously monitor your apps running on your Kubernetes clusters comparing the live state of your app against the desired state you have defined in your Git repository. These GitOps Operators ensure the desired state is in place on your Kubernetes clusters performing create, update, delete activities on your Kubernetes clusters as needed.

This is where Argo CD comes into the picture. Argo CD is one of the top GitOps Operators. It provides declarative, continuous delivery to your Kubernetes clusters. It was created by a team at Intuit in 2018 and later open-sourced. I am going to write a few blogs exploring the use of Argo CD with AKS. This will be the first of the series walking through the deployment of Argo CD to AKS. In the next post, we will deploy an app to Kubernetes using Argo CD and see where the topic goes from there. Now let’s dive into deploying Argo CD to AKS. Here are the steps:

-DEPLOYING ARGO CD ON AKS-

Log onto the Azure portal (https://portal.azure.com)

Launch Azure Cloud Shell

Connect to your AKS cluster from the Azure Cloud Shell by running the following:

# Set your subscription

az account set –subscription YOURSUBSCRIPTIONIDHERE

# Connect to your KS cluster

az aks get-credentials –resource-group YOURRESOURCEGROUPNAME –name CLUSTER NAME

Next let’s create a namespace for Argo CD to deploy all of its components in. To do this run:

kubectl create namespace argocd

Next we can install Argo CD into the new namespace we created. We will reference Argo CD’s GitHub repository for the latest Argo CD operator. Run the following:

kubectl apply -n argocd -f https://raw.githubusercontent.com/argoproj/argo-cd/stable/manifests/install.yaml

You should see the following:

You should end up with many objects in the Argo CD namespace.

By default, the Argo CD is not accessible externally. It is deployed with a service type of ClusterIP.

Leaving it at ClusterIP is fine but for the purposes of this blog/lab and getting started lets change this so we can easily access the ArgoCD Server website. # Change the argocd-server service type to LoadBalancer. To do this run the following:

kubectl patch svc argocd-server -n argocd -p ‘{“spec”: {“type”: “LoadBalancer”}}’

Now you will be able to see that the argocd-server service type has been changed to a LoadBalancer type. This means that it now has a public Azure load balancer attached to it with an external IP.

NOTE: This is not recommended in production environments. Only use in a lab or dev environment. In production environments, it is recommended to use an ingress for the Argo CD API server that is secured.

Argo CD auto generated a password during the deployment. We need to get the Argo CD password so we can log into it. To get the password run the following:

kubectl -n argocd get secret argocd-initial-admin-secret -o jsonpath=”{.data.password}” | base64 -d && echo

You will see the password in readable format so you can copy it such as shown in the screenshot.

Note the default Argo CD username is admin.

To access the Argo CD web portal you need to access the Argo CD API Server. To do this you can either do this from the external IP of the argo-cd object or the via the Argo CD CLI using the following:

 argocd login <ARGOCD_SERVER>

The Argo CD web portal will look like:

That’s it! You have Argo CD deployed on your AKS cluster. In the next post, I will walk through deploying a simple app to your Kubernetes cluster via Argo CD.

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Pluralsight Author Talk – GitOps: The Big Picture

Coming up soon I will be giving my first Pluralsight Author Talk. This live session will be on GitOps. I will cover a fundamental understanding of GitOps, the need for GitOps, GitOps architecture, GitOps workflow, GitOps principles, practices, & tooling such as Flux, Argo CD, AND Jenkins X.

More information here: https://www.pluralsight.com/events/2021/delta-author-talk-q4

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Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes: Getting Started – Pluralsight Course

Today Pluralsight published 1 of 2 Azure Arc courses I am building. This marks my 10th course on Pluralsight! This first course is Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes: Getting Started. Azure Arc is a key service in the Azure story extending Azure to the on-premises data center and or multiple clouds outside of Azure.

This course is just under 2 hours and packed full of information & demos to help you get started with the topic. I go into a deeper understanding of the multi-cloud market, Kubernetes in the enterprise, and Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes. Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes architecture. Setting up and using Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes. And using GitOps with Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes.

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I am excited about releasing this course for several reasons: #1 Azure Arc is a newer technology from Microsoft and I am happy to share my knowledge about it, #2 This one is a combination of Azure Arc, Kubernetes, & GitOps all technologies I have been working with regularly, #3 Azure is growing, Kubernetes is growing, and multi-cloud is growing all in the enterprise and this course covers all three of these.

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Here is the description of the course:

Managing Kubernetes clusters across on-premises and multiple clouds can be disjointed and overly complicated. In this course, Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes: Getting Started, you’ll learn to how to manage external Kubernetes clusters with Azure Arc. First, you’ll explore what Azure Arc k8s is and how to use it. Next, you’ll discover the features of Azure Arc K8s and how to use them. Finally, you’ll learn how to how to use Azure Arc K8s and GitOps to deploy applications. When you’re finished with this course, you’ll have the skills and knowledge of Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes needed to manage Kubernetes clusters across on-premises and multiple clouds.

Here are the areas and topics of the course:

Understanding Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes                

Intro and Topics                

Understanding Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes                

Understanding Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes Use Cases                

Understanding Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes Architecture                

Summary

 

Working with Kubernetes Clusters Using Azure Arc                

Intro and Topics                

Connecting Kubernetes Clusters to Azure Arc                

Demo: Connecting a Kubernetes Cluster to Azure Arc                

Monitoring projected Kubernetes Clusters with Azure Monitor and Azure Arc                

Demo: Setup Azure Monitor of Projected Kubernetes Cluster in Azure Arc                

Defining Authorization on Azure Arc Projected Kubernetes with Azure RBAC                

Protecting Azure Arc Projected Kubernetes Clusters with the Azure Defender                

Administering Projected Kubernetes Clusters with Azure Policy and Azure Arc                

Summary

 

Deploying Applications to Projected Kubernetes Clusters Using Azure Arc and GitOps                

Intro and Topics                

Understanding How GitOps Works with Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes                

Deploying Applications and Configurations to Projected Kubernetes Clusters with Azure Arc and GitOps                

Demo: Deployment of an Application to a Projected Kubernetes Cluster via GitOps and Azure Arc K8s                

Deploying Helm Charts to Projected Kubernetes Clusters with Azure Arc and GitOps                

Deploying IoT Workloads with Azure Arc and GitOps                

Understanding the Future of Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes                

Summary               

Here is a preview of the Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes course:

Here is a link to the full Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes course on Pluralsight: https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/azure-arc-enabled-kubernetes-getting-started

This course is also a part of the all new Azure Arc path titled “Managing Environments with Azure Arc” on Pluralsight. There are other courses in the path already such as Azure Arc: The Big Picture, Azure Arc-enabled Data Services: The Big Picture, and Azure Arc and Azure Lighthouse: First Look and many more Azure Arc courses on the way.

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Here is a link to check out the new Azure Arc path: https://app.pluralsight.com/paths/skills/managing-environments-with-azure-arc

I hope you find value in this new Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes: Getting Started course. Be sure to follow my profile on Pluralsight so you will be notified as I release new courses including my second Azure Arc related course! 

Here is the link to my Pluralsight profile to follow mehttps://app.pluralsight.com/profile/author/steve-buchanan

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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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Passed – Docker Certified Associate (Study guide)

Today I passed the Docker Certified Associate exam! In this post, I will share some details about the exam and the resources I used to study for it.

The certification is good for 2 years after passing the exam. It demonstrates that you have foundational real-world Docker skills. It is multiple choice with 55 questions, you have 1.5 hours to finish it and costs $195 USD. It is recommended that you have 6 to 12 months of hands-on experience with Docker before taking the exam. You can read about and sign up for the exam here: https://success.docker.com/certification.

I have had some folks ask me why I would waste my time taking the Docker exam. They say to focus on Kubernetes and Open Shift instead of Docker. Lets talk about why I chose to pursue the Docker certification. First off you have to run containers on those orchestration platforms mentioned before and chances are you will run Docker containers on them. Therefore before diving into an orchestration platform it is important to be knowledgable on containers. Also, I have seen many scenarios in the cloud where it makes sense to run containers directly on the cloud platform itself and again chances are those will be Docker containers. Docker is still a leader in the container space. There are several reports and articles that point to this. Here are some of the reports and articles backing this up:

Docker listed as the leader in the “Container Tools Used” section of the RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report” here:

Docker is listed as #2  with 31.35% market share on Datanyze 2020 “Containerization Market Share Competitor Analysis Report” here:

Source: https://www.datanyze.com/market-share/containerization–321

In “Sysdiags 2018 Docker usage report” they show “What container runtimes are in use?” showing Docker as the leader. 

Source: https://sysdig.com/blog/2018-docker-usage-report/

And finally this article arguing that Docker is better than LXC here:

https://www.upguard.com/articles/docker-vs-lxc

I will call out that the Docker exam covers Swarm mode orchestration platform that is included with Docker. Swarm mode is a lot easier to learn and use compared to Kubernetes however, Kubernetes has won the orchestration platform war. It would be nice if Docker would revamp the exam reducing or removing Swarm and replace with some Kubernetes objectives. This would make more sense because there is a strong chance Swarm will not be used in the real world. 

The Docker exam was not an easy exam and you definitely want to have some hands-on with Docker before taking it. There are a ton of resources out there that you can leverage beyond hands-on to assist in your study for this certification. There are many books available. You can do a quick search on Amazon and check the reviews for one that would be a good fit for you. I have read a couple of books on Docker and have co-authored a book on AKS with a chapter dedicated to Docker in it.

Here is the list of what I used to study.

Free Hands on Docker labs (This resource was huge for me. It gave me environments to use and scenarios for training with Docker and Docker Swarm mode.):

I attended a “Docker JumpStart Virtual Workshop” by Microsoft MVP Mike Pfeiffer and Microsoft MVP/Docker Captain Dan Wahlin (This workshop ocurred in the past but I beleive you can sign up and watch the recordings from the workshop.):

Free Docker Certification review questions here (This blogger has a bunch of review questions to help you get in the right mindset. They cover all the exam areas.): 

Docker courses and learning checks on Pluralsight (The courses are great. I found the learning checks very useful becuase it was a good way to check my knowledge in all of the exam areas.):

Spent time working with Docker on some projects (self explanatory).

Overall the Docker certification is a good move for your career as an IT Pro, developer, if you work in DevOps, and with cloud. I definitely recommend getting this certification. If you decide to go after it good luck!

Stay tuned for more blog posts with insights on certifications in the future.

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Composer in a Docker Image

This will be a short post and this one is mostly for me so I can easily find this information in the future when I need it again. 🙂

Recently I was containerizing some PHP websites that use Composer. If you are not familiar with Composer but you are working with PHP, you will run across it at some point. Composer is a dependency package manager for PHP. Composer manages (install/update) any required libraries and dependencies needed for your PHP site.

To use Composer you must first declare the libraries and dependencies in a composer.json file in your site directory and then you would run Composer and it will do its magic. For more information on Composer visit: https://getcomposer.org/doc/00-intro.md

Back to my task, I needed to install Composer in the containers I was building and run it to install all the dependencies. I needed these actions in the Dockerfile so it would all happen during the container build. After some research on Composer I was able to pull something together. Here is the syntax that I ended up putting in the Dockerfile:

# Install Composer
RUN curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

# Set working directory for composer (Contains the composer.json file)
WORKDIR /var/www/html/sitename

# Run Composer
RUN composer install

Note: I placed the above code at the end of the Dockerfile ensuring Apache, PHP etc was all in place first.

Thanks for reading and happy Containerizing!

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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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Docker JumpStart Virtual Workshop

I want to share here about Docker training I will be attending later this month June 24th/25th, 2019. It is a Docker JumpStart Virtual Workshop. I am excited about this training because it will be delivered by a fellow Microsoft MVP’s Dan Wahlin and Mike Pfeiffer. Also Dan Wahlin is a Docker Captain.

For those that don’t know a Docker Captain is like a Microsoft MVP but for Docker. There will even be some Kubernetes covered on day 2. This is shaping up to be some great training.

As of now there is still room in this class and its less than $300 USD! If you have wanted to get up to speed on Docker this is a good low cost way to do it. Here is a link to sign up: Docker JumpStart Workshop

Here is what will be covered across the 2 days (from the training website):

Day 1:

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Where to host Docker Containers on Azure (AKS, ASE, or ASF)?

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) service Azure App Service Environment (ASE) Azure Service Fabric (ASF) Comparison

Scenario:

So, your team recently has been tasked with developing a new application and running it. The team made the decision to take a microservices based approach to the application. Your team also has decided to utilize Docker containers and Azure as a cloud platform. Great, now it’s time to move forward right? Not so fast. There is no question that Docker containers will be used, but what is in question is where you will run the containers. In Azure containers can run on Azure’s managed Kubernetes (AKS) service, an App Service Plan on Azure App Service Environment (ASE), or Azure Service Fabric (ASF). Let’s look at each one of these Azure services including an overview, pro’s, cons, and pricing.

This Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Pros and Cons chart is clickable.
This Azure App Service Environment (ASE) Pros and Cons chart is clickable.
This Azure Service Fabric (ASF) Pros and Cons chart is clickable.

Conclusion:

Choose Azure Kubernetes Service if you need more control, want to avoid vendor lock-in (can run on Azure, AWS, GCP, on-prem), need features of a full orchestration system, flexibility of auto scale configurations, need deeper monitoring, flexibility with networking, public IP’s, DNS, SSL, need a rich ecosystem of addons, will have many multi-container deployments, and plan to run a large number of containers. Also, this is a low cost.

Choose Azure App Service Environment if don’t need as much control, want a dedicated SLA, don’t need deep monitoring or control of the underlying server infrastructure, want to leverage features such as deployment slots, green/blue deployments, will have simple and a low number of multi-container deployments via Docker compose, and plan to run a smaller number of containers. Regarding cost, running a containerized application in an App Service Plan in ASE tends to be more expensive compared to running in AKS or Service Fabric. The higher cost of running containers on ASE is because with an App Service Plan on ASE, you are paying costs for a combination of resources and the managed service. With AKS and ASF you are only paying for the resources used.

Choose Service Fabric if you want a full micros services platform, need flexibility now or in the future to run in cloud and or on-premises, will run native code in addition to containers, want automatic load balancing, low cost.

A huge thanks to my colleague Sunny Singh (@sunnys101) for giving his input and reviewing this post. Thanks for reading and check back for more Azure and container contents soon.

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