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Deploying Applications with Kubernetes

· 12 min read
Deniz Colak

Docker? Kubernetes? Minikube? Do these terms make you feel like you're drowning in a sea of containerization chaos? If so, fear not. We're here to throw you a lifesaver! In this post, we'll explore how to deploy applications with Kubernetes and create a deployment. By the end of this tutorial, you'll be able to deploy your applications with Kubernetes.


Microservices and containerization have taken the world by storm, radically transforming how we develop, deploy, and manage applications. But as Spiderman's Uncle Ben wisely stated, "With great power comes great responsibility." While Docker provides us the power to containerize applications, managing these containers can become a Herculean task. Enter Kubernetes, the superhero of container orchestration. Now, you might be wondering, "How do I get started with Kubernetes?"

In this post, we'll provide a step-by-step guide to get you up and running with Kubernetes using Minikube, and deploy your applications like a pro.


Before embarking on our Kubernetes adventure, there are a few tools you'll need in your utility belt:

  1. Basic understanding of Docker and Linux commands.
  2. Familiarity with a programming language (Python or JavaScript recommended).
  3. A computer with at least 2GB of free memory and 20GB of free disk space.

Ready? Let's set sail!

Installing Minikube

Our first stop is installing Minikube, a tool that runs a single-node Kubernetes cluster on your personal computer. Think of Minikube as your personal sandbox where you can play around and get comfortable with Kubernetes.

  1. Download Minikube

    • Depending on your OS, the installation process may vary. You can find detailed instructions on the official Minikube GitHub page.
  2. Install Minikube

    • Once downloaded, install Minikube. For instance, on a Linux system, you'd run:

      chmod +x minikube
      sudo mv minikube /usr/local/bin/
  3. Verify Your Installation

    • Run minikube version to confirm the installation. We can't emphasize enough the importance of verifying at each step. In programming, as in life, little confirmations help us ensure we're on the right track!

Next stop, Docker!

Setting Up Docker

Docker is the lifeblood of any Kubernetes system. You may think of Docker as a magic box, where you put in your application and all its dependencies, and out comes a self-sufficient package - a Docker container. A "ship", if you will, ready to sail on any sea without worrying about the compatibility of ports. Now, let's get our Docker shipyard set up, shall we?

  1. Install Docker

    • Installation procedures vary by system. Detailed installation instructions for various operating systems can be found at the Docker website.
  2. Verify Your Installation

    • Use the command docker --version to ensure Docker has been installed correctly. Remember our rule of thumb about verification at each step? This is no exception!

Great! With Docker installed, you are ready to build your fleet of applications.

Understanding Kubernetes Basics

Before we dive into action, it's time for a quick theory class. But don't worry! This won't be your typical snooze-inducing lecture. Let's envision Kubernetes as a busy seaport.

  • Pods: Think of Pods as individual boats. Each Pod can hold one or more containers (your Docker applications).
  • Deployments: Now, imagine if you were a harbor master, would you manually manage each boat? Or would you rather set some rules and let things run automatically? If you chose the latter, you've got the idea of Deployments. They're like automated managers for your Pods.
  • Services: Finally, Services are the routes in our sea that guide traffic to the right boat.

Armed with these basics, you are ready to navigate the Kubernetes sea!


If you'd like to learn more about Kubernetes architecture, check out our blog on Exploring Kubernetes Architecture.

Building a Docker Image

Before we begin, make sure you have Node.js and npm (node package manager) installed on your local system. Node.js is a powerful JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine.

  1. Creating the Node.js App

Begin by setting up a simple Express.js application. Create a directory for your app and initialize it with a package.json file:

$ mkdir node-elk && cd node-elk
$ npm init -y

Install Express.js, a popular web application framework for Node.js:

$ npm install express

Create an app.js file and add the following code:

const express = require("express")
const app = express()
const port = 3000

app.get("/", (req, res) => {
console.log("Hello ELK!")
res.send("Hello World!")

app.listen(port, () => {
console.log(`App listening at http://localhost:${port}`)

This simple application serves a 'Hello World!' page and logs a "Hello ELK!" message to the console each time the page is accessed.

  1. Creating the Dockerfile

Next, we'll craft the Docker image for this application. In your node-elk directory, create a Dockerfile:

FROM node:14
WORKDIR /usr/src/app
COPY package*.json ./
RUN npm install
COPY . .
CMD [ "node", "app.js" ]

This Dockerfile tells Docker to use the official Node.js image as a base, sets a working directory, copies over your application and its dependencies, exposes the correct port, and finally, launches your application.

  1. Building the Docker Image

Run the following command to build your Docker image:

docker build -t node-elk:latest .

Congratulations, sailor! You've built a Docker ship hosting a Node.js app. Next, we'll set up the ELK stack to manage the logs from our application.

Setting Up the ELK Stack

  1. Setting Up the ELK Stack

The ELK Stack consists of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. Elasticsearch is a search and analytics engine, Logstash is a server-side data processing pipeline, and Kibana lets users visualize data with charts and graphs.

We'll use Docker Compose to set up the ELK stack. Create a docker-compose.yml file and add the following:

version: "3"
- discovery.seed_hosts=elasticsearch
- cluster.initial_master_nodes=elasticsearch
- bootstrap.memory_lock=true
- ES_JAVA_OPTS=-Xms512m -Xmx512m
soft: -1
hard: -1
- esdata1:/usr/share/elasticsearch/data
- 9200:9200

- 5000:5000
LS_JAVA_OPTS: "-Xmx256m -Xms256m"
- ./logstash.conf:/usr/share/logstash/pipeline/logstash.conf
- elasticsearch

- 5601:5601
- elasticsearch

driver: local

This Compose file sets up three services – Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. It also specifies their relationships, configures their settings, and maps the required ports.


The logstash.conf file is not created yet. It'll be our next step.

  1. Setting Up Logstash

Logstash will process the logs from our application and send them to Elasticsearch. For this, it needs a configuration file.

Create a logstash.conf file and add the following:

input {
tcp {
port => 5000

output {
elasticsearch {
hosts => ["elasticsearch:9200"]

This configuration tells Logstash to listen for logs on TCP port 5000 and output them to Elasticsearch.


Great job, captain! You've now built a Docker image hosting a Node.js app that generates logs, and set up an ELK stack to ingest and analyze those logs.

In the next steps, we'll explore how to run this setup in a Kubernetes environment and visualize logs with Kibana. But for now, take a moment to appreciate your accomplishments! 🎉

Running Your Docker Image in Minikube

With our Docker image ready and our ELK stack in place, we're ready to launch our setup in a Minikube environment.

  1. Start Minikube

Begin by starting your Minikube cluster:

minikube start
  1. Set Docker Environment

Make sure that your Docker CLI is pointing to the Docker daemon inside Minikube:

eval $(minikube docker-env)
  1. Create a Kubernetes Deployment

Now, let's deploy our Node.js application using a Kubernetes Deployment:

kubectl run node-elk --image=node-elk:latest --image-pull-policy=Never
  1. Expose the Application

Make your application accessible by exposing it as a service:

kubectl expose deployment node-elk --type=NodePort --port=3000

Well done! Our application is now running on Kubernetes. But what about the logs? That's where the ELK stack comes into play.

Deploying the ELK Stack on Kubernetes

Deploying the ELK stack on Kubernetes requires a bit more setup, so let's take it one step at a time.

  1. Create Persistent Volumes

Elasticsearch requires persistent storage, so we'll create a PersistentVolume and a PersistentVolumeClaim.

Create a file named elasticsearch-pv.yaml and add the following:

apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolume
name: elasticsearch-pv
storage: 5Gi
volumeMode: Filesystem
- ReadWriteOnce
persistentVolumeReclaimPolicy: Retain
storageClassName: standard
path: "/mnt/data"
apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
name: elasticsearch-pvc
storageClassName: standard
- ReadWriteOnce
storage: 5Gi

This YAML file creates a PersistentVolume and a PersistentVolumeClaim with a 5GB storage capacity. It also specifies the access mode and the storage class. Finally, it maps the volume to the /mnt/data directory on the host. This directory will be used to store the Elasticsearch data. You can change this path to a directory of your choice. Just make sure that the directory exists on the host. If it doesn't, create it using the following command:

mkdir /mnt/data

Apply the PersistentVolume and PersistentVolumeClaim:

kubectl apply -f elasticsearch-pv.yaml
  1. Create Kubernetes Deployments and Services for ELK Stack

Create separate Deployment and Service manifests for Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana.

For Elasticsearch, create a elasticsearch-deployment.yaml file with the following content:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
name: elasticsearch
replicas: 1
app: elasticsearch
app: elasticsearch
- name: elasticsearch
- name: discovery.type
value: single-node
- mountPath: /usr/share/elasticsearch/data
name: elasticsearch-storage
- name: elasticsearch-storage
claimName: elasticsearch-pvc
apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
name: elasticsearch
app: elasticsearch
- protocol: TCP
port: 9200
targetPort: 9200

Apply the Elasticsearch Deployment and Service:

kubectl apply -f elasticsearch-deployment.yaml

Similarly, create Deployment and Service manifests for Logstash and Kibana, and apply them. Be sure to set the correct Docker image, environment variables, ports, and other configuration settings as we defined in the Docker Compose file.

Exploring Your Logs with Kibana

With your Node.js application and the ELK stack running in Kubernetes, you can now explore your logs with Kibana.

  1. Access Kibana

To access Kibana, you need to find the port that Kibana is exposed on. Run the following command:

minikube service kibana --url

Open the returned URL in your web browser to access Kibana.

  1. Set Up an Index Pattern

In Kibana, set up an index pattern in the Management section to tell Kibana what Elasticsearch index to analyze.

  1. Explore Your Logs

Finally, navigate to the Discover section in Kibana to start exploring your logs.

Congratulations 🎉

Congratulations, captain! ⛴️ You've successfully deployed a Node.js application with the ELK stack on Kubernetes and learned to visualize your application logs with Kibana. Quite a voyage, isn't it?

Preparing a Local Kubernetes Development Environment

Remember how we talked about Kubernetes being a bustling seaport? Well, running that efficiently requires more than just the basics. It requires an array of specialized tools to manage different aspects of the harbor. Similarly, a professional-grade Kubernetes development environment demands a suite of additional tools to boost productivity and ease various tasks. Let's discuss a few of these indispensable tools.

  1. Helm: Consider Helm as your package manager for Kubernetes, akin to npm or pip in the world of Python and JavaScript. Helm uses a packaging format called charts, which are collections of files that describe a related set of Kubernetes resources. Helm charts help you define, install, and upgrade complex Kubernetes applications, simplifying the deployment and management of applications.

  2. Skaffold: Skaffold is like your local Kubernetes "workshop", allowing you to develop and debug applications directly in your cluster. It supports an active development mode, where it watches your local source code for changes and automatically builds, pushes, and deploys your application. Skaffold also aids in continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) by providing pipeline automation.

  3. K9s: K9s provides a terminal-based UI to interact with your Kubernetes clusters, making it easier to navigate, observe, and manage your applications. It’s like the advanced radar system for your harbor, providing a real-time view of your fleet's status. K9s continually watches Kubernetes for changes and offers subsequent commands to interact with your observed resources.

  4. Kompose: If you are transitioning from Docker Compose to Kubernetes, Kompose is a handy tool. It helps convert Docker Compose files into Kubernetes resources, smoothing your journey to Kubernetes.

  5. Kubetail: This little utility allows you to aggregate logs from multiple pods into one stream. It's like having ears on every boat in the harbor and tuning into their conversations.

  6. Lens: Lens is a powerful IDE for people who need to deal with Kubernetes clusters daily. It provides full situational awareness for everything that runs in Kubernetes, improving productivity by simplifying complex workflows and providing observability.

  7. Minikube vs kind (Kubernetes in Docker): We've used Minikube for this tutorial, but another popular tool is kind. While Minikube runs a single-node Kubernetes cluster inside a VM, kind runs Kubernetes clusters using Docker container "nodes". Both tools have their strengths, so choose one based on your specific requirements.

Investing time to master these tools will drastically enhance your Kubernetes journey. Each tool adds a new dimension to your Kubernetes toolbox, empowering you to manage your applications more effectively and efficiently. So, set sail and explore these powerful tools in the vast sea of Kubernetes!


So here we are, at the end of this adventure, but don't be mistaken – this is just the beginning. The Kubernetes sea is vast, with countless tools and techniques to explore. Keep learning, keep exploring, and most importantly, enjoy the voyage. Bon voyage, sailor!

Keep sailing! ⛵