What about this Bicep?

You’ve probably heard about Azure Resource Manager (ARM) – the deployment and management service/layer of Azure, which enables you to manage (create, configure, delete) your Azure resources.¬†Also, you are probably aware that ARM uses so called ARM templates – basically, JSON files that actually define the infrastructure and configuration you want to deploy to Azure (think Infrastructure as Code, IaC).

So, if you have dealt with ARM/JSON in the past, you may have been finding it difficult to start with, and somewhat complex.

Bicep is here to help.

Here is a short overview of Bicep – basically, it’s a language which enables you easier deployment of Azure resources, without messing around (too much) with JSON. To be frank, it somehow reminds of Terraform, but it’s also different. It has many cool features, immediately supports all new Azure features and APIs, can be built (converted) into .json and deployed as such or it can be deployed straight away as .bicep, doesn’t require state file, it’s open and free, has great support in Visual Studio Code and much more. And it’s still in active development!

If you’re dealing with IaC and Azure, try it.

To show you the power (and simplicity) of Bicep, here is a short example of deploying Linux virtual machine in Azure (together with a resource group, virtual network, virtual network subnet, virtual NIC and network security group), done “the old way” (in JSON, which was actually converted from Bicep… it’s easier than writing JSON from the scratch) and then done via Bicep (“the right way”? ūüėÄ).

Additionally, you’ll see that I’ve tried to break stuff into modules – with more or less sucess. ūüėÄ

The ARM/JSON way (could be done nicer/shorter, with parameters inside .parameters.json… if you know what you’re doing – this is converted from Bicep and serves just for illustrative purposes):

 

The Bicep way:



Bicep seems a bit easier to read and shorter, right (while still doing basically the same thing)? ūüėÄ

If we deploy the .bicep files above (note that I’m deploying the “raw” .bicep file directly – which is cool!):


We finally get our resources:

So, where should you start if you’re new to Bicep?

I would certainly recommend starting with free and official Deploy and manage resources in Azure by using Bicep learning path on Microsoft Learn.

After that, you can probably pick up Freek Berson’s book Getting started with Bicep: Infrastructure as Code on Azure (first and only book on Bicep that I know of – really liked it because of the simple (yet effective) examples with storage accounts, it connects everything and flows naturally – building up “brick by brick” and not “jumping around”, just to show off what Bicep can do).

Another great resource are also the Bicep examples – there’s plenty to learn from them too!

Of course, you’ll also need to practice – install the Azure CLI or Azure PowerShell module, add Bicep and use Visual Studio Code for your first steps with creating, deleting, configuring and breaking stuff… powered by Bicep! ūüėÄ

Cheers!

Deploying Kubernetes on top of Azure Stack (Development Kit)

If you had a chance to deploy Azure Stack or Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK) in your environment, maybe you’ve asked yourself “OK, but what should I do with it now?“.

Well, one of many things you “can do with it” is offer your users to deploy Kubernetes clusters on top of it (at least, that was what I did the other day… on my ASDK deployment) – in short, official documentation has you pretty much covered. I know, Azure enables it as well… and the process here is similar, or – the same.

The main thing you have to decide at the beginning, is if you’ll use Azure AD or ADFS for identity management (the same as with Azure Stack deployment, if you remember, from my previous posts). Why – because the installation steps differ a bit.

Once you decide it (or you ask your Azure Stack administrator how it’s done in your case), you can proceed with the installation – I assume you have your Azure Stack/ASDK up and running.

Next, in the admin portal (https://adminportal.local.azurestack.external/), you’ll need to add the prerequisites from Azure Marketplace (for this, if you remember, your Azure Stack/ASDK has to be registered):

Once done, you’re ready to set up the service principal, to which you’ll then assign the required permissions on both – the Azure side and on the Azure Stack side! (don’t forget this detail… it is well documented, but easy to overlook)

In case you don’t give your service principal the required permissions on both “sides”, you’ll probably get the “error 12” and your deployment will fail:

And you can see details in the log:

So… be careful with service principal and permissions! ūüôā

Next thing you’ll need to make sure of is that you create a plan and an offer, but set your quotas right! It depends on your Kubernetes cluster deployment settings, but if you’ll go with the defaults, the default quotas (disk, in particular) need to be expanded!

If not, you’ll probably get this error:

If you were careful while reading the official docs (with a few “lessons learned” in this post), and you’ve made it to here… you’re probably set to deploy your first Kubernetes cluster on top of your Azure Stack/ASDK.

In the user portal (https://portal.local.azurestack.external/), you now have the option to deploy something called Kubernetes Cluster (preview):

Here you really can’t miss much – you’ll give your deployment a brand new (or empty) resource group, user details (together with your public SSH key, of course), DNS prefix, number and size of nodes and service principal details:

After that, your deployment starts and runs for some time (it, again, depends on your hardware and settings you’ve chosen for your cluster).¬†Hopefully, it will end with this message:

If all is good, you can SSH into one of your master nodes and see the details of your cluster:

One other thing that would be nice to have is the Kubernetes dashboard – the process of enabling it is well documented here:

And – you’re done!

You now have your own Kubernetes cluster deployment on top of your Azure Stack/ASDK! How cool is that?! ūüôā

One last thing to note – currently, this is in preview (as it says on the template), but… it works. ūüôā

Cheers!