Home / Deploying a multi-container application to Azure Kubernetes Services


Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is the quickest way to use Kubernetes on Azure. AKS provides capabilities to deploy and manage Docker containers using Kubernetes. With AKS, customers automatically get the benefits of the open source Kubernetes without the complexity and the operational overhead. Azure DevOps helps in creating Docker images for faster deployments and reliability using the continuous build option.

One of the biggest advantage to use AKS is that instead of creating resources in cloud you can create resources and infrastructure inside Azure Kubernetes Cluster through Deployments and Services manifest files.

Lab Scenario

This lab uses a Docker-based ASP.NET Core web application - MyHealthClinic and is deployed to a Kubernetes cluster running on Azure Container Service (AKS) using Azure DevOps.There is a mhc-aks.yaml manifest file which consists of definitions to spin up Deployments and Services such as Load Balancer in the front and Redis Cache in the backend. The MHC application will be running in the mhc-front pod along with the Load Balancer.

If you are new to Kubernetes, click here for description of terminology used in this lab.

What’s covered in this lab

The following tasks will be performed:

  • Create an Azure Container Registry (ACR), AKS and Azure SQL server

  • Provision the Azure DevOps Team Project with a .NET Core application using the Azure DevOps Demo Generator tool.

  • Configure application and database deployment, using Continuous Deployment (CD) in the Azure DevOps

  • Initiate the build to automatically deploy the application

Before you begin

  1. Refer the Getting Started page to know the prerequisites for this lab.

  2. Click the Azure DevOps Demo Generator link and follow the instructions in Getting Started page to provision the project to your Azure DevOps.

Preparing the user machine

This lab requires all the pre-requisite executables to be installed and configured in an Administrator mode on the user machine.

Note: If you do not have the administrative privileges on your machine, it is suggested to create a Windows Virtual Machine (VM) on Azure and follow the exercises in the VM.

  1. Spin up a Windows virtual machine on Azure.

  2. Disable the Internet Explorer Enhanced Configuration to allow download of the rest of the pre-requisite tools.

  3. Enable the JavaScript to allow required lab specific features on the webpage.

  4. Download and install the Git Bash on the Azure VM.

  5. Install Azure CLI version 2.0.45 on the Azure VM.

  6. Download the KubeCtl, and make sure the path of kubectl.exe is included in the PATH Environment Variable of the lab machine.

  7. Follow the below instructions to create a pair of SSH RSA public & private keys which will be used in the next exercise.
    1. Open the Git Bash, type the command ssh-keygen -t rsa and press the Enter button.
    2. Provide the following values:
      • File path : Path to which the generated key file should be saved. Leave it blank to save the file to default path.
      • Passphrase : Provide a passphrase or leave it blank for an empty passphrase.
    3. Access the path where the keys are generated. The contents of the public key id_rsa.pub is required for setting up the environment.
  8. Type az login in the command prompt and press Enter. Authorize your login in the browser.

    1. Type az ad sp create-for-rbac -n “MySampleApp” -p P2SSWORD in the command prompt to get the Service Principal Client and the Service Principal Client Secret.
    • Copy appId which is the Service Principal Client ID

    • P2SSWORD is the Service Principal Client Secret. Both will be required for the next exercise. (keep this window open)

      Kubernetes Service Endpoint

Setting up the environment

The following azure resources need to be configured for this lab:

Azure resources Description
Azure Container Registry Azure Container Registry Used to store the Docker images privately
AKS AKS Docker images are deployed to Pods running inside AKS
Azure SQL Server Azure SQL Server SQL Server on Azure to host database
  1. Select the Deploy to Azure button (or right click and select the Open in new tab option) to spin up Azure Container Registry, Azure Container Service (AKS) and Azure SQL Server. Enter required details for the below fields, agree to the Terms and Conditions, and then Select the Purchase button.

    • Subscription
    • Resource Group
    • Location
    • Acr Name
    • DB Server Name
    • AKS Name
    • DNS Prefix
    • SSH RSA Public Key
    • Service Principal Client
    • Service Principal Client Secret

    Deploy to Azure

    Deploy to Azure

  2. It takes about 5 minutes to provision the environment. Once the deployment succeeds, a notification is displayed in the Azure portal. Select the Go to resource group button.

    Deploy to Azure

  3. The following components - Storage account, Container Registry, Container Service, SQL Server along with SQL Database are deployed. Access each of these components individually and make a note of the details which will be used in Exercise 1.

    Deploy to Azure

  4. Select the mhcdb SQL database and make a note of the Server name.

    Deploy to Azure

  5. Navigate to the resource group, select the created container registry and make a note of the Login server name.

    Deploy to Azure

Since all the required azure components are now created, the Azure DevOps team project can be created.

Exercise 1: Configure Build and Release pipeline

Make sure that you have created the AKS project in your Azure DevOps account through Azure DevOps Demo Generator (as mentioned in pre-requisites). We will manually map Azure resources such as AKS and Azure Container Registry to the build and release definitions.

  1. Select Builds section under the Pipelines hub and Edit the build definition MyHealth.AKS.Build.


  2. In Run services section, under the Tasks tab select your Azure subscription from Azure subscription dropdown. Click Authorize.


    You will be prompted to authorize this connection with Azure credentials. Disable pop-up blocker in your browser if you see a blank screen after clicking the OK button, and please retry the step.

    This creates an Azure Resource Manager Service Endpoint, which defines and secures a connection to a Microsoft Azure subscription, using Service Principal Authentication (SPA). This endpoint will be used to connect Azure DevOps and Azure.

  3. Select appropriate values from the dropdown - Azure subscription and Azure Container Registry as shown. Repeat this for the Build services, Push services and Lock services. Click on the Variables tab.



    Tasks Usage
    Replace tokens replace ACR in mhc-aks.yaml and database connection string in appsettings.json
    icon Run services prepares suitable environment by pulling required image such as aspnetcore-build:1.0-2.0 and restoring packages mentioned in .csproj
    icon Build services builds the docker images specified in a docker-compose.yml file and tags images with $(Build.BuildId) and latest
    icon Push services pushes the docker image myhealth.web to Azure Container Registry
    publish-build-artifacts Publish Build Artifacts publishes mhc-aks.yaml & myhealth.dacpac files to artifact drop location in Azure DevOps so that they can be utilized in Release Definition

    applicationsettings.json file contains details of the database connection string used to connect to Azure database which was created in the beginning of this lab.

    mhc-aks.yaml manifest file contains configuration details of deployments, services and pods which will be deployed in Azure Kubernetes Service.

  4. Update ACR and SQLserver values for Pipeline Variables with the details noted earlier while configuring the environment. Select the Save button.


  5. Navigate to the Release section under the Build & Release menu, Edit the release definition MyHealth.AKS.Release and select Tasks.



  6. In the Dev environment, under the DB deployment phase, select Azure Resource Manager from the drop down for azure service connection type, update the Azure Subscription value from the dropdown for Execute Azure SQL: DacpacTask task.


  7. In the AKS deployment phase, under the Create Deployments & Services in AKS task, update the Azure Subscription, Resource Group and Kubernetes cluster from the dropdown. Expand the Secrets section and update the parameters for Azure subscription and Azure container registry from the dropdown. Repeat similar steps for Update image in AKS task.



    • Create Deployments & Services in AKS will create the deployments and services in AKS as per the configuration specified in mhc-aks.yaml file. The Pod, for the first time will pull up the latest docker image.

    • Update image in AKS will pull up the appropriate image corresponding to the BuildID from the repository specified, and deploys the docker image to the mhc-front pod running in AKS.

    • A secret called mysecretkey is created in AKS cluster through Azure DevOps by using command kubectl create secret in the background. This secret will be used for authorization while pulling myhealth.web image from the Azure Container Registry.

  8. Select the Variables section under the release definition, update ACR and SQLserver values for Pipeline Variables with the details noted earlier while configuring the environment. Select the Save button.


Exercise 2: Trigger a Build and deploy application

In this exercise, let us trigger a build manually and upon completion, an automatic deployment of the application will be triggered. Our application is designed to be deployed in the pod with the load balancer in the front-end and Redis cache in the back-end.

  1. Click on Pipelines tab and select the Queue button under Builds section.


  2. Once the build process starts, select the build number to see the build in progress.



  3. The build will generate and push the docker image to ACR. After the build is completed, you will see the build summary. To view the generated images in the Azure Portal, select the Azure Container Registry and navigate to the Repositories.


  4. Switch back to the Azure DevOps portal. Select the Release tab in the Pipelines section and double-click on the latest release. Select In progress link to see the live logs and release summary.



  5. Once the release is complete, launch the command prompt with Administrator privilege and run the below commands to see the pods running in AKS:

    1. Type az login in the command prompt and press Enter. Authorize your login by providing your credentials.

      Kubernetes Service Endpoint

    2. Type az aks get-credentials --resource-group yourResourceGroup --name yourAKSname in the command prompt to get the access credentials for the Kubernetes cluster. Replace the variables yourResourceGroup and yourAKSname with the actual values.

      Kubernetes Service Endpoint

    3. kubectl get pods


      The deployed web application is running in the displayed pods.

  6. To access the application, run the below command. If you see that External-IP is pending, wait for sometime until an IP is assigned.

    kubectl get service mhc-front --watch


  7. Copy the External-IP and paste it in the browser and press the Enter button to launch the application.


    Access AKS through the browser Type the below command in the command prompt to access the AKS through the browser.

    az aks browse --resource-group <yourResourceGroup> --name <yourAKSname>

    AKS through browser

    AKS Dashboard: Once the AKS dashboard is launched, the following details will be displayed.

    AKS Dashboard

    Note: Under Release Definition, you can optionally disable Execute Azure SQL: DacpacTask and Create Deployments & Services in AKS tasks as they are required to run only once in the beginning.


AKS reduces the complexity and operational overhead of managing a Kubernetes cluster by offloading much of that responsibility to the Azure. With Azure DevOps and Azure Container Services (AKS), we can build DevOps for dockerized applications by leveraging docker capabilities enabled on Azure DevOps Hosted Agents.