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Does the term AKS sound confusing? Hopefully not. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a powerful Kubernetes managed service that makes creating and running a Kubernetes cluster easy. It offers many exciting features for container-based applications. In this article, you can learn a few interesting details on the benefits of AKS, how you can use it in more ways than you knew earlier, its security features, and its availability. 

You might know that many modern applications today use containers. Containers are microservices packaged with their dependencies and configurations. When using containers at a large scale, you can use an orchestrator that will help make the administration of your applications easy.  

With advancing technologies like serverless architecture, infrastructure goes on lower priority. The Azure offering for Kubernetes is the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) (formerly known as Azure Container Service). AKS helps handle critical functionality such as deploying, scaling, and managing container-based applications, including Docker. 

AKS was available in mid of 2018 and is a popular choice among developers and ops teams today. Kubernetes is an ideal option for container orchestration, but it involves some overhead in cluster management. AKS is useful for managing the overheads and reducing the complexity of deployment management tasks. AKS is a good choice if your organization seeks to build scalable applications with Docker and Kubernetes on Azure. 

Using the Azure command-line interface (CLI) along with an Azure portal or Azure PowerShell, you can create AKS clusters. There are template-driven deployment options available with Azure Resource Manager templates as well.  

What are the features and benefits of AKS? 

AKS offers flexibility in terms of reduced management overhead for administrators and automation. For example, during the deployment process. You can use AKS to configure Kubernetes nodes that control and manage worker nodes automatically.  

Other activities handled include connections to monitoring services, Azure Active Directory (AD) integration, and configuration of networking features like HTTP application routing. Monitoring of clusters is easy with the Azure Monitor. 

Microsoft manages the latest Kubernetes upgrades for newer versions, and users can choose the time to upgrade their Kubernetes versions to minimize any chance of workload disruption by accident. 

AKS nodes can manage resource demand fluctuations. Access to AKS is available through an AKS management portal or AKS Command-line interface besides the template option through Azure Resource Manager. AKS integrates with the Azure Container Registry (ACR) for Docker image storage. Users can access Kubernetes resources in AKS through the Azure portal. 

AKS integrates with Azure AD to give role-based access control (RBAC) for monitoring and security of Kubernetes architecture. 

Doing more with AKS - Use cases. 

AKS is popular for container-based deployment and management, but many other use cases exist. 

An interesting one is the ability to use AKS for automating and streamlining the migration of applications into containers. You can initiate by moving the application into a container. After registering the container with Azure Container Registry (ACR), you can launch the container into a pre-configured environment using AKS. 

You can also use AKS for the launch and operation of microservices-based applications. Here AKS can manage a diverse group of containers and deploy and scale as needed. 

AKS is beneficial for continuous integration/delivery and DevOps in agile software methodologies. For example, the development team can place a new container build into a Github repository and move those builds into an ACR. Using AKS can launch workloads into the operational containers. 

AKS can help process real-time data streams for faster and easier analysis. In the case of the internet of things (IoT), the AKS can help in managing necessary compute resources to process data from millions of discrete IoT devices. 

 How do AKS support security, monitoring, and compliance? 

AKS provides complete support for Role-based access control (RBAC) through Azure Active Directory. It enables administrators to customize Kubernetes access to Active Directory identity and group associations. System administrators can monitor container health details with the memory and processor metrics available from containers and other infrastructure points. You can monitor data through the AKS management portal or the CLI in AKS and application programming interfaces (APIs). 

AKS adheres to regulatory requirements laid down by System and Organization Controls. It is compliant with most regulatory authorities like International Organization for Standardization, Health Information Trust Alliance, and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation, overseeing open-source Kubernetes, certifies AKS. 

In the case of creating or scaling up AKS clusters, the nodes automatically get deployed with the latest security updates. Linux-based nodes automatically get operating system (OS) security patches, while it’s not an automatic process in the case of Windows Server nodes. 

Is AKS Free?  

AKS is a totally free Azure service, so you don't pay anything for the Kubernetes cluster management. However, AKS users need to pay for computing resources like storage, networking, or any other cloud resources that the containers may consume with applications operating within the Kubernetes cluster. 

AKS is available across most regions globally, and you can check the latest ones here from Microsoft.  

Conclusion 

Kubernetes is a very popular container orchestration tool. However, the complexities of managing the tool have led to fully-managed Kubernetes services. Azure Kubernetes Service is an excellent choice for running containers in the cloud. You can try it out and discover the benefits. 


 


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