25 June 2020

Use Azure DevOps to Build and Deploy Apps to Azure Kubernetes Service


In this article I will describe how to use Azure DevOps to:

  • build a docker image of your application,
  • push this image to Azure Container Register,
  • release your kubernetes deployment to Azure Kubernetes Service.

If you don’t have any basic knowledge about docker, kubernetes, and Azure CLI please check out my previous article Deploying .NET Core Application to Azure Kubernetes Cluster.

The Benefits of Automating Continuous Integration and Delivery Processes

Automating CI/CD processes allows you to:

  • save a lot of time
  • eliminate bugs that happen when you do the same job over and over again
  • deliver your product much faster

Azure DevOps can help you with that.

Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps can automate your Continuous Integration and Delivery processes. It can get access to your git repository (Azure Repos Git, GitHub, and other git repositories). It can automatically react to your activity in your repository:

  • run tests when you create a pull request
  • build a docker image when you merge your pull request to a selected branch and push it to Azure Container Register (ACR)
  • when everything is ok, it can apply changes to your Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)

You can use docker images from your ACR to create as many release configurations as you need. For example, one for dev, test, stage and production environment and decide when you want to release them.

If you don’t have your Azure Container Register and Azure Kubernetes Service, you can use necessary Azure CLI commands from my previous article:

Azure setup

1 2 3 #Create temp variables: $projectName="shkube" $argName=$projectName+"RG" $acrName=$projectName+"ACR" $aksName=$projectName+"AKS" $region="northeurope"

We are going to use them to create ACR and AKS in Azure Resource Group (ARG).

Login to azure:

az login

And lets create everyting you will need later:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 # Create resource group az group create -n $argName -l $region # Create azure container register az acr create -n $acrName -g $argName --sku standard # Create azure kubernetes service az aks create -n $aksName -g $argName --generate-ssh-keys --node-count 1 --node-vm-size Standard_B2s --enable-addons monitoring # Get AKS Client Id and AKS Id $CLIENT_ID=$(az aks show -g $argName -n $aksName --query "servicePrincipalProfile.clientId" --output tsv) $ACR_ID=az acr show --name $acrName --resource-group $argName --query "id" --output tsv # Give AKS access to ACR az role assignment create --assignee $CLIENT_ID --role acrpull --scope $ACR_ID # Get credential to your AKS az aks get-credentials -g $argName -n $aksName

Now we can begin to work with your CI/CD.


If you are reading this article, then you probably already have your application up and running inside Docker Container or even Kubernetes. If not, then you need three additional files to do that:

  • Dockerfile
  • docker-compose.yml
  • deployment.yml

If you don’t have them you can use the ones from this project.

Azure DevOps

Go to your Azure DevOps website and create a new project.

Create a new pipeline:

I’m going to use a classic editor and select Github repository. Pick your repository and a branch that you are going to use to build a container from this project.

If you see Docker Compose on a list, you can use it, but I will pick Empty job.

Use + button to add the first step of your pipeline! In this step we build a new docker image with your application. We use Docker Compose step that will use your docker-compose.yml file.

Now there are a few things to do:

  • select your Azure Subscription
  • select Azure Container Register
  • put a path to your docker-compose.yml file
  • change Action to Build service image

and put $(Build.BuildId) as Additional Image Tags (without this, we won’t be able to determine which image version to deploy later).

Great! Now we have to push this image to our ACR. Let’s add second Docker Compose step. The only difference is the Action field: now pick Push service image.

The third step is optional but recommended. Lock an image version or a repository so that it can’t be deleted or updated.

As before, add Docker Compose step. The only difference is the Action field. Now pick Lock image service. Output Docker Compose File will fill automatically.

There are two more steps to follow.

Add Copy Files step.

  • In Contents put a name or a path to your deployment.yml file (we will use this file during Release)
  • In Target folder put $(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)

And Publish build artifacts step. Leave it as it is.

We will use Artifact name during Release. If you want your pipeline to trigger automatically after each merge, go to Triggers tab and select Enable continuous integration.

Click on Build pipeline and change Agent Specification to use Ubuntu (if you prefer Windows then you will have to change all paths to match Windows).

Now we can test our pipeline! Hit Save & queue.

Go to Pipelines, select the pipeline you have created and pick the newest Run. If it’s green, everything is ok.

If not, then you have to check which step went wrong and fix it.

Congratulations! We’re halfway through. We have an image and it’s available on your ACR. Let’s check it out. Please login to your Azure Portal and check if it’s there (please notice that it’s also tagged by its build number).

Now we can configure new Release.

Azure Releases

Go to Release tab and create a new one.

Similarly to pipeline configuration, I have select Empty job. Now click on Add an artifact, select your project and source.

Go to Tasks tab add Kubectl task.

  • change Service connection type,
  • select Azure subscription,
  • select resource group,
  • select Kubernetes cluster,
  • pick Apply Command,
  • check Use configuration.

And pick your deployment.yml file in File path.

Expand Advance and choose Version spec that matches the version of Kubernetes on Azure. You can use this command to check the current one:

1 2 az aks show -g $argName -n $aksName --output table

Add new Kubectlstep (we will have to replace the name of your docker image to match the one on ACR).

Set everything as before but change Command to set, and Arguments input to image deployments/shkube-deployment$(Build.BuildId).

This command is tricky, we have to navigate by name to deployment, and then to container image.

We specify the image version here. It’s a better practice than just using latest because the latest image always points to the newest one (created after each merge). It could be ok for your dev environment but not for the production one.

Click Save and Create release (top right) and go to Release to check if everything’s alright.

Ok, let’s go to console and check your services and pods.

And navigate to IP of your service to check if it’s up and running.

It’s working! Congratulations!

Your Continuous Integration and Delivery setup is ready. You can now use your pipeline to create another Release configuration for your test, stage, or production environment.

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Szczepan Błaszkiewicz
Software Developer

I’m a .NET-driven full stack developer. I love the idea behind Docker and I’m happy to share it.