My 1st Microsoft Article: Build and deploy apps on AKS using DevOps (GitHub Actions) and GitOps (ArgoCD)

Yesterday a new article titled “Build and deploy apps on AKS using DevOps and GitOps” was published. This is an article I was working on for a while and it is the first item of work that I can share publicly since joining Microsoft. I am working on many other things I can’t share publicly at the moment. :-)!

The article is a part of the Azure Architecture Center. This article is about modernizing end-to-end app build and deploy using containers, continuous integration (CI) via GitHub Actions for build and push to an Azure Container Registry, as well as GitOps via Argo CD for continuous deployment (CD) to an AKS cluster.

The article can be found here: 

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/architecture/example-scenario/apps/devops-with-aks

The article explores deploying a Python and Flask based app via two CI/CD approaches push-based and pull-based (GitOps). It is complete with a pros and cons comparison of both approaches and architecture diagrams for each that you can download. Here is a screenshot of the pull-based (GitOps) architecture:

The technologies used in this article and scenario include:

GitHub

GitHub Actions

Azure Container Registry

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

Argo CD (GitOps Operator)

Azure Monitor

This article also has a repository with code for both the push-based CI/CD scenario and the pull-based CI/CD (GitOps) scenario in the AKS Baseline Automation. I had the opportunity to spearhead and work on these. They will walk through using each approach and have the code for the Flask App, and GitHub Actions to run the approaches. A direct link to this section of the article is here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/architecture/example-scenario/apps/devops-with-aks#deploy-this-scenario

I hope that you find all of this useful. Now go check out the article and deploy the app using the approaches. Stay tuned for more from me at Microsoft and for more blog posts here!

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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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How To Set the Application Reconciliation Timeout in Argo CD

Argo CD has something called the Application reconciliation timeout. This is how often your applications will sync from Argo CD to the Git repository. It looks for changes and when it sees changes it will then apply the desired state from the repo to the Kubernetes (K8s) cluster. By default the timeout period is set to 3 minutes. This is set in the General Argo CD configuration.

The General Argo CD configuration is set in the argocd-cm ConfigMap. And the argocd-cm ConfigMap is deployed in the argocd namespace.

You can view what is currently set by running the following kubectl command on your K8s cluster that is running your Argo CD instance:

kubectl describe configmaps argocd-cm -n argocd

The output will look like the following:

You can also see that the argocd-cm Data is empty by running kubectl get configmaps -n argocd or if you are using AKS navigate to ConfigMaps in the Azure portal like in the following screenshot.

Most Argo CD instances are running the default settings for its configurations. The argocd-server component reads and writes to the argocd-cm ConfigMap and other Argo configuration ConfigMaps based on admin user interactions with the Argo CD web UI or the Argo CD CLI. It is normal for it to be empty with Data at 0 if you have not changed any defaults or set anything directly in the ConfigMap yet.

To change the Application reconciliation timeout you need to do the following:

  1. Get a copy of the argocd-cm ConfigMap here: https://github.com/argoproj/argo-cd/blob/master/docs/operator-manual/argocd-cm.yaml
  2. The Application reconciliation timeout can be found on line 283 “timeout.reconciliation: 180s”.
  3. Change “180s” to whatever number you want to change it to i.e. change to “60s” to reduce the sync internal to 1 minute.
  4. Remove all of the other settings in the file except for the Application reconciliation timeout. The file should look like this:
apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
metadata:
  name: argocd-cm
  namespace: argocd
  labels:
    app.kubernetes.io/name: argocd-cm
    app.kubernetes.io/part-of: argocd
data:
  # Application reconciliation timeout is the max amount of time required to discover if a new manifests version got
  # published to the repository. Reconciliation by timeout is disabled if timeout is set to 0. Three minutes by default.
  # > Note: argocd-repo-server deployment must be manually restarted after changing the setting.
  timeout.reconciliation: 60s

5. Save the file.

6. Connect to the Kubernetes cluster that is running Argo CD and apply the argocd-cm ConfigMap file you just updated by running the following:

kubectl apply -f argocd-cm.yaml -n argocd

7. Run the following to verify the update was applied:

kubectl describe configmaps argocd-cm -n argocd

You should also notice at least 1 is listed under Data for the ConfigMap now.

8. It is a good practice to redeploy the argocd-repo-server after updating the argocd-cm ConfgigMap. You can redeploy the argocd-repo-server by running the following:

kubectl -n argocd rollout restart deploy argocd-repo-server

That’s it! Now your app in Argo CD will sync on the new Application Reconciliation Timeout that you set. Check back soon for more Azure, Cloud, Kubernetes, GitOps, Argo CD content and more.

BTW: For more in-depth information on GitOps and Argo CD check out my GitOps and Argo CD courses on Pluralsight here:

GitOps: The Big Picture“:

https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/gitops-the-big-picture

Getting Started with Argo CD“:

https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/argo-cd-getting-started

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

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GitOps Fundamentals Certification

Recently Codefresh launched the 1st certification in its GitOps certification path. This one is called “GitOps Fundamentals“. You can find it here: https://codefresh.learnworlds.com .

It takes you through the basics of GitOps to gain theoretical knowledge, and how to utilize Argo CD as the GitOps operator to gain hands-on knowledge. You will learn about both and will have questions on both in the quizzes and final exam.

They also touch on Argo Rollouts to go over Progressive Delivery with topics such as blue/green deployments and canary deployments. This is the 1st ever GitOps certification and it’s free! They do have plans for GitOps at Edge and GitOps at Scale certifications.

You can find more information about the GitOps certification and Codefresh’s future plans for it on this blog by Hannah Seligson (one of the authors of the course and exam) here: https://codefresh.io/blog/get-gitops-certified-argo.

I jumped all over this opportunity to get certified on GitOps, by signing up for the course, taking the training, and the exam! I passed and now I am GitOps certified.

Here is the certification:

GitOps is gaining adoption more and more every day in the Kubernetes space. Also, Argo CD is growing extremely fast as one of the top if not the top GitOps operator. I recommend you check this Codefresh GitOps certification out and get GitOps certified as this pattern and the technology behind it are growing at a super fast rate.

Also note, it looks like Weaveworks is planning to launch a “Certified GitOps Practitioner (CGP)” certification soon. I would guess the Weaveworks GitOps certification will contain content on Flux another GitOps operator. You can learn more about their coming GitOps certification here: https://www.weave.works/certified-gitops-practitioner

Also for more training on GitOps and Argo CD be sure to check out my GitOps and Argo CD courses on Pluralsight here:

GitOps: The Big Picture“:

https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/gitops-the-big-picture

Getting Started with Argo CD“:

https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/argo-cd-getting-started

And here is the link to my Pluralsight profile to follow me for future GitOps, Kubernetes, Cloud, and DevOps content: https://app.pluralsight.com/profile/author/steve-buchanan

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Watch Learn Live Episode 7 – Introduction to Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes

Today Pierre Roman (@wiredcanuck) Senior Cloud Advocate of Microsoft & myself (@buchatech) streamed “Introduction to Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes” on Learn Live. Here is what we covered in this session:

In this session, showed you how Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes clusters can help customers like Contoso to optimize and simplify their operations. Here are the Learning objectives we covered:

  • Describe Kubernetes, Azure Arc, and Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes.
  • Connect Kubernetes clusters to Azure Arc.
  • Manage Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes clusters by using GitOps.
  • Integrate Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes cluster with Azure services like Azure Monitor and Azure Policy.

If you missed it don’t worry. 🙂 You can watch the playback on the Microsoft Developer YouTube channel here:

You can check out more Learn Live episodes on the:

Or

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Tech Talk with Kazeem – Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes for Beginners

I was a guest on Tech Talk with Kazeem again! The topic of discussion was Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes for Beginners.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TechTalk-w-Kazeem-2022-ArcK8s-2.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TechTalk-w-Kazeem-2022-ArcK8s-1.png
@KazeemCanTeach & @buchatech@buchatech Azure Arc K8s book with O’Reilly

In the discussion with me and Microsoft MVP Kazeem Adegboyega, we talked about Azure Stack, AKS, Azure Arc: K8s, and GitOps! We talked about each technology and when to use them for what purpose and more.

You can check it out here:

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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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Registering an Azure Kubernetes Service Cluster with Argo CD

Argo CD is a GitOps operator and the goal of it is to be able to deploy apps to Kubernetes. In the majority of cases, we want to use Argo CD to deploy apps to many clusters.

Argo CD itself is deployed as a set of pods on a Kubernetes cluster. By default with an Argo CD deployment, the cluster it is running on is set as “in-cluster” (https://kubernetes.default.svc). When apps are configured for deployment a Kubernetes Cluster under Destination is required. They can be deployed to either the “in-cluster” K8s cluster or an external K8s cluster.

In order to deploy apps to an external Kubernetes cluster, you will need to register an external K8s cluster with Argo CD.

If you want to see the clusters you have registered with your Argo CD one way is through the web UI. Once you log in navigate to Settings and then Clusters to see them.

You can also see the clusters you have in the Argo CD CLI. To use the Argo CD CLI you need to log into the Argo CD API Server as shown in the following screenshot.

To see what clusters are registered from the CLI you can run

argocd cluster list

You will notice that you will only see the In-Cluster K8s cluster until you add an external one. Also, note that you are not able to register a new K8 cluster in the Argo CD web UI. You can only register a new K8s cluster from the Argo CD CLI. Within the Argo CD web UI you can delete the default in-cluster K8s cluster. This is not recommended.

If you click on the In-Cluster K8s cluster you can modify some settings of the in-cluster K8s cluster in the Argo CD web UI such as the name of it and its namespace. Not useful when you want to have more control over the settings around the K8s cluster you will be deploying apps to.

In my example, my Azure subscription has two AKS clusters. You can see this in the following screenshot. The arriving-gelding-k8s cluster is my In-Cluster object in Argo CD. The selected-worm-k8s is not my In-Cluster so I want to add this one to my Argo CD.

To add the new external cluster run use the following steps.

Step 1: Add your target K8s cluster to ArgoCD via the context in your kubectl config.

-For AKS you can simply log into your Azure subscription from VS Code on your computer and then run

 az aks get-credentials –resource-group RGNAME –name AKSCLUSTERNAME

This will add the context for your AKS cluster to your kubeconfig file.

-For the process on your setup refer to the following link as it may differ:  https://kubernetes.io/docs/tasks/access-application-cluster/configure-access-multiple-clusters

Step 2: List the K8 cluster contexts in your current kubeconfig file to ensure your target cluster has been added. Do this by locally running:

kubectl config get-contexts -o name

Step 3: Install a Service Account (argocd-manager), into the kube-system namespace of your kubeconfig file context:

argocd cluster add CONTEXTNAME

It will look like this:

After completing the previous steps you can run argocd cluster list again or go into the portal. You will see your new cluster added.

That wraps up this blog post. Now you should be able to deploy to more than just your In-Cluster Kubernetes cluster. Check back soon for more posts on Argo CD, GitOps, Kubernetes, and Azure topics.

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Deploy App to Azure Kubernetes Service via Argo CD

In my last post on Argo CD with AKS, I mentioned the next post would explore deploying an app via Argo CD. Well, in this post we are going to do just that. I am going to walk through deploying an app from Argo CD to AKS. Note this same process would work for any Kubernetes cluster. This is not going to be a long post as the process is straightforward.

First of all, you can deploy an app from the Argo CD web UI or CLI. Ready your application in a Git-based repository. It does not matter what source control system you use for your repository as long as it is Git-based. You can use Azure DevOps, Gitlab, Bit Bucket etc. In my case I use GitHub. To deploy an app you need to point to a Git repository of either K8s manifest, Helm, or Kustomize. In this blog post I am going to keep it simple and use the Hello K8s app from Paul Bouwer. Ok, now let’s jump in.

Here are the steps for Deploying an App to Argo CD within the Web UI:

  1. In the Argo CD web UI ensure you are on the Applications page
  2. Click the + NEW APP button
  3. Give the app the name hellok8s, use the project default (I used a dev project in my example), select Automatic for the sync policy, check AUTO-CREATE NAMESPACE
  4. On Source for the Repo URL use https://github.com/paulbouwer/hello-kubernetes.git & select deploy/helm/hello-kubernetes for the path
  5. For the DESTINATION select https://kubernetes.default.svc for the Cluster URL and use hellok8s for the namespace
  6. Leave all the defaults under HELM
  7. Click the CREATE button at the top of the UI

Once the app is deployed it will look like this:

You can view the resources in AKS now. In the following screenshot you can see the deployment, pods, and service of a load balancer type.

You can also speed things up by deploying your app via the Argo CD CLI. This will accomplish the same goal as you would deploying the app via the Argo CD Web UI.

Deploying an App to Argo CD from the Argo CD CLI:

argocd app create hellok8s –repo https://github.com/paulbouwer/hello-kubernetes.git –path deploy/helm/hello-kubernetes –dest-server https://kubernetes.default.svc –dest-namespace default

That wraps things up for this post. Check back soon for more posts on Argo CD, GitOps, Kubernetes, and Azure topics.

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Argo CD Course Published on Pluralsight

Yesterday my 12th course on Pluralsight was published! This course is “Getting Started with Argo CD“. In this course, you’ll learn the ins and outs of Argo CD a GitOps Operator tool, its core concepts, architecture, and how to use it with Kubernetes clusters so you can get started using it.

I am really excited about this course because it gave me a chance to continue sharing my GitOps and Kubernetes knowledge. You can view this course as a continuation of my “GitOps: The Big Picture” course. My GitOps course educates you on what GitOps is. This Argo CD course shows GitOps and a GitOps Operator in action!

Many organizations today have adopted cloud & Kubernetes. Organizations multiple production Kubernetes clusters online often across multiple clouds the complexity of management increases. GitOps has risen as a pattern used to reduce the complexity of managing Kubernetes clusters and cloud-native applications. Argo CD is a GitOps Operator that can help with the management of Kubernetes and deployment of applications to it. Some of the major topics that I covered in the Argo CD course include:

  1. Argo CD’s core concepts and architecture.
  2. An overview of Containers, Kubernetes, Helm, Kustomize, GitOps, and how these work with Argo CD.
  3. What it takes to deploy and operate Argo CD including areas such as user management, secrets, webhooks, monitoring and more, as well as how to use the Argo CD API server, Web UI, and use its command line interface.
  4. How to deploying and manage Applications with Argo CD.

Check out the course here: https://app.pluralsight.com/library/courses/argo-cd-getting-started

This is my 1st course in the Kubernetes Tooling and Techniques path on Pluralsight. I am working on another course for this path. This path focuses on the additional tools and techniques that you can integrate with your Kubernetes operations to improve efficiency, scalability, and a whole host of other factors. There are some other great courses in the Kubernetes Tooling and Techniques path.

Check the Kubernetes Tooling and Techniques path here: https://app.pluralsight.com/paths/skills/kubernetes-tooling-and-techniques

I hope you find value in this new Getting Started with Argo CD course. Be sure to follow my profile on Pluralsight so you will be notified as I release new courses including more GitOps related courses and a Rancher course in the Kubernetes Tooling and Techniques path! 

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

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