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Azure Container Service (AKS): Steps to Setting Up Your First Cluster with Kubernetes

Over the last few years, people have increasingly been adopting containers. But to use containers at a large scale, you need to use an orchestrator to ease the administration of your applications. Kubernetes is the most popular orchestrator and, while there are many concepts you need to learn to make the most of it, the benefits of using Kubernetes are truly amazing.

These days, we no longer have to go through the hassle of installing, configuring, andmaintaining all of the tools and services for our applications. With technologies like serverless architecture, we’re trending towards caring less and less about infrastructure so that we can focus on what’s really going to provide value. Microsoft understands this, which is why Azure provides many platform as a service (PaaS) solutions.

Azure has an offering for Kubernetes: Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). In this post, I’ll talk more about AKS and show you two methods you can use with it to create a cluster.

Azure Container Service

Installing, configuring, and maintaining a Kubernetes cluster could distract your company from the things that provide value. Wouldn’t it be nice not to waste time and resources managing Kubernetes? That’s where Azure Container Service (AKS) comes in. Now, your first thought might be that the abbreviation should have a C and not a K…but the idea behind using the K is to emphasize that it’s a Kubernetes-managed service.

Azure’s offerings for containers began with Azure Container Service (ACS), which gives you the option to choose between the most popular container orchestrators: Mesos, Swarm, and Kubernetes. With ACS, you have to pay for the master servers of the orchestrator, and some orchestrators need more resources than you might think.

AKS, on the other hand, does not charge you for Kubernetes masters—you only pay for the nodes (minions) where your containers will be deployed. But if you think starting right away with Kubernetes could be overwhelming, there’s also a cooler service called Azure Container Instances (ACI), which is the “serverless” offering for Docker containers in Azure. What’s nice about this service is that you can scale Kubernetes using ACI. ACI is still in preview, but AKS could become even more powerful with ACI.

The cool thing about AKS is that you can try out the service without using huge virtual machines. It’s important to mention that AKS—as of today—is still in preview, so the instructions below might change in time.


Before you start, you need to have the following:

  1. An Azure account with a subscription. You need a credit card, but don’t worry—you’ll get initial free credits when you start a subscription. You can also get some free credits if you have an MSDN subscription

  2. Azure CLI installed and configured.

  3. Kubernetes command-line tool kubectl installed

  4. Make sure the Azure subscription you use has these required resources: Storage, Compute, Networking, and Container Service.

That’s all for now, I will keep updating on the Container Technologies!

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