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Securing Your Applications with Private Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Clusters

Atisha Shaurya
Atisha Shaurya
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In the world of modern cloud-native applications, Kubernetes has emerged as the de facto container orchestration platform. Microsoft Azure offers Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), a managed Kubernetes service that makes it easier to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications using Kubernetes. One of the essential aspects of securing your applications and data in AKS is through the use of private clusters.

Why Use a Private AKS Cluster?

In a standard AKS cluster, the control plane (Kubernetes API server) is publicly accessible over the internet, making it easier to manage and interact with the cluster. However, there are scenarios where you may want to restrict access to your cluster’s control plane and make it private

  1. Enhanced Security: Private AKS clusters provide an additional layer of security by limiting access to the control plane to only those resources and IP addresses that you explicitly specify. This reduces the attack surface and makes it more challenging for unauthorized users or malicious actors to access your cluster.
  2. Compliance Requirements: Many organizations have compliance requirements that mandate certain levels of network isolation and data protection. Private clusters can help you meet these requirements by ensuring that your cluster’s control plane is not exposed to the public internet.
  3. Isolated Workloads: In multi-tenant environments or situations where you want to isolate workloads, a private cluster can provide the necessary isolation while still allowing you to use Kubernetes for container orchestration.

How to Create a Private AKS Cluster

Creating a private AKS cluster involves a few key steps:

1. Create a Virtual Network (VNet)

Azure uses Virtual Networks (VNets) to provide network isolation. You’ll need to create a VNet and configure it to enable private cluster functionality. Here’s a basic example using Terraform:

resource "azurerm_resource_group" "example1" {
  name     = "my-aks-rg"
  location = "centralus"

resource "azurerm_virtual_network" "example12" {
  name                = aks-vnet"
  address_space       = [""]
  location            = azurerm_resource_group.example.location
  resource_group_name =

resource "azurerm_subnet" "example" {
  name                 = "aks-subnet"
  resource_group_name  =
  virtual_network_name =
  address_prefixes     = [""]

2. Create a Private AKS Cluster

Now, you can create the AKS cluster with a private control plane:

resource "azurerm_kubernetes_cluster" "private-aks" {
  name                = "aks-cluster"
  location            = azurerm_resource_group.example1.location
  resource_group_name =
  dns_prefix          = "akscluster"

  default_node_pool {
    name       = "default"
    node_count = 1
    vm_size    = "Standard_D2s_v3"

  network_profile {
    network_plugin = "azure"
    load_balancer_sku = "standard"

  identity {
    type = "SystemAssigned"

  private_cluster {
    enabled = true

3. Update Route Tables and Firewall Rules

To access your private cluster, you’ll need to configure route tables and firewall rules to allow traffic from your on-premises network or other authorized networks to reach the cluster’s private IP address range.

4. Securely Connect to the Private Cluster

To interact with your private AKS cluster, you can use Azure Bastion or a VPN Gateway to establish secure connections. These options allow you to access the cluster securely without exposing it to the public internet.


Private AKS clusters provide an additional layer of security and isolation for your containerized applications in Azure. By following best practices and configuring your cluster to be private, you can meet compliance requirements, enhance security, and ensure that your workloads are isolated as needed. Azure’s robust networking capabilities, along with Terraform or other Infrastructure as Code tools, make it relatively straightforward to create and manage private AKS clusters, enabling you to focus on building and deploying your applications with confidence.

Atisha Shaurya

Atisha Shaurya

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