Since last year, we've been hard at work on the Containers extension adding new functionality to make the management of Windows containers easier. Today we have yet another update for you!
The journey of containerizing existing applications using Windows Admin Center starts by creating a new containers image - Windows Admin Center can create a container image based on existing Visual Studio solutions, Web Deploy files, and more. Next, you can run the container image locally or push your image to Azure Container Registry (ACR) and run it in the cloud with Azure Container Instance (ACI). However, these options for running the container image are options for single instances - no container orchestrator in place.
As we listened for customer feedback, it became clear that many IT admins out there were looking for simple solutions to get their apps running - but the barrier of entry for Kubernetes is high. Creating your workload definition on YAML is not trivial. Our goal with this update is make the process of deploying applications on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and AKS on Azure Stack HCI (AKS-HCI) as easy as possible.
Creating new Workload Definitions
With the updated version of the Container extension you'll see a new Kubernetes section on the side-menu. The first option is the Workload Definition, on which you can create YAML files that are used to specify how your application should be deployed. If you want to create a new Workload Definition, you can click the option to create new and this will start a wizard-like experience:
In the wizard you'll provide some information about your application, such as the container image to use, the CPU and Memory configuration, the number of pod replicas, etc. With this information, Windows Admin Center will create a new YAML file - which you can edit if you want to. With the YAML file created you can then deploy it to AKS or AKS-HCI.
Once you have a YAML file created, you can select the option to apply the workload definition to AKS or AKS-HCI. In the background, Windows Admin Center will use kubectl to connect to the cluster you specified. If you select an AKS cluster, the kubectl configuration will be retrieved from Azure. If you select AKS-HCI, you need to specify the host cluster name and credentials, so Windows Admin Center can retrieve the configuration for your target cluster.
However, there's more happening under the covers. When you specify your container image to use, the nodes will have to authenticate against ACR, and configuring this authentication is not trivial. Luckily, Windows Admin Center handles that for you. Basically, what it is doing is safely retrieving the configuration for ACR directly from Azure and storing it securely on your nodes as a Kubernetes secret.
Check your workloads
Once you deploy your workloads, you can check if it is running correctly. You can click the Kubernetes Service option on the menu, which allows you to specify which cluster you wan to check the deployments.
The image above shows the deployment of an application on AKS-HCI. The display is similar to running kubectl with the "get deployments" option. It shows some details on the deployment, including the number of pods and how many are ready.
As always, please continue sending us your feedback! Each new feature we design and ship is informed by your input. You can send your comments and feedback our way either via comments below, or our GitHub repo by opening a new issue.