Deploy a Dockerized Application to Azure Kubernetes Service using Azure YAML Pipelines 2 – Terraform Development Experience

Posted by Graham Smith on April 7, 2020No Comments (click here to comment)

This is the second post in a series where I'm taking a fresh look at how to deploy a dockerized application to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) using Azure Pipelines after having previously blogged about this in 2018. The list of posts in this series is as follows:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Terraform Development Experience (this post)
  3. Terraform Deployment Pipeline
  4. Running a Dockerized Application Locally
  5. Application Deployment Pipelines
  6. Telemetry and Diagnostics

In this post I take a look at how to create infrastructure in Azure using Terraform at the command line. If you want to follow along you can clone or fork my repo here, and if you haven't already done so please take a look at the first post to understand the background, what this series hopes to cover and the tools mentioned in this post. I'm not covering Terraform basics here and if you need this take a look at this tutorial.

Working With Terraform Files in VS Code

As with most code I write, I like to distinguish between what's sometimes called the develop inner loop and the deployment pipeline. The developer inner loop is where code is written and quickly tested for fast feedback, and the deployment pipeline is where code is committed to version control and then (usually) built and deployed and subjected to a variety of tests in different environments or stages to ensure appropriate quality.

Working with infrastructure as code (IaC) against a cloud platform is obviously different from developing an application that can run completely locally, but with Terraform it's reasonably straightforward to create a productive local development experience.

Assuming you've forked my repo and cloned the fork to a suitable location on your Windows machine, open the repo's root folder in VS Code. You will probably want to install the following extensions if you haven't already:

The .gitignore file in the root of the repo contains most of the recommended settings for Terraform plus one of my own:

The following files in the iac folder are of specific interest to my way of working locally with Terraform:

  • Here I declare variables here but don't provide default values.
  • terraform.tfvars: Here I provide values for all variables that are common to working both locally and in the deployment pipeline, and which aren't secrets.
  • dev.tfvars: Here I provide values for all variables that are specific to working locally or which are secrets. Crucially this file is omitted from being committed to version control, and the values supplied by dev.tfvars locally are supplied in a different way in the deployment pipeline. Obviously you won't have this file and instead I've added dev.txt as a proxy for what your copy of dev.tfvars should contain.
  • Here I specify the minimum versions of Terraform itself and the Azure Provider.

The other files in the iac folder should be familiar to anyone who has used Terraform and consist of configurations for the following Azure resources:

With all of the configurations I've taken a minimalist approach, partly to keep things simple and partly to keep Azure costs down for anyone who is looking to eek out free credits.

Running Terraform Commands in VS Code

What's nice about using VS Code for Terraform development is the integrated terminal. For fairly recent installations of VS Code a new terminal (Ctrl+Shift+') will create one of the PowerShell variety at the rood of the repo. Navigate to the iac folder (ie cd iac) and create dev.tfvars based on dev.txt, obviously supplying your own values. Next run terraform init.

As expected a set of new files is created to support the local Terraform backend, however these are a distraction in the VS Code Explorer. We can fix this, and clean the Explorer up a bit more as well:

  1. Access the settings editor via File > Preferences > Settings.
  2. Ensuring you have the User tab selected, in Search settings search for files:exclude.
  3. Click Add Pattern to add a glob pattern.
  4. Suggested patterns include:
    1. **/.terraform
    2. **/*.tfstate*
    3. **/.vscode
    4. **/LICENSE

To be able to deploy the Terraform configurations to Azure we need to be logged in via the Azure CLI:

  1. At the command prompt run az login and follow the browser instructions to log in.
  2. If you have access to more than one Azure subscription examine the output that is returned to check that the required subscription is set as the default.
  3. If necessary run az account set --subscription "subscription_id" to set the appropriate subscription.

You should now be able to plan or apply the configurations however there is a twist because we are using a custom tfvars file in conjunction with terraform.tfvars (which is automatically included by convention). So the correct commands to run are terraform plan -var-file="dev.tfvars" or terraform apply -var-file="dev.tfvars", remembering that these are specifically for local use only as dev.tfvars will not be available in the deployment pipeline and we'll be supplying the variable values in a different way.

That's it for this post. Next time we look at deploying the Terraform configurations in an Azure Pipeline.

Cheers -- Graham