How to Deploy Nginx on a Kubernetes Cluster?


Nginx is a popular open-source web server that has been widely used for its high performance, scalability, and reliability. It is also commonly used as a load balancer and reverse proxy server. On the other hand, Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

It provides a flexible architecture that can run on-premises or in the cloud. Nginx has become an essential component for many organizations that need to deploy their applications at scale.


Understanding of Kubernetes architecture and concepts

Before deploying Nginx on a Kubernetes cluster, it is important to have a solid understanding of the overall architecture and key concepts of Kubernetes. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration system that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

It works by abstracting away the underlying infrastructure and providing a unified API for managing containers across multiple hosts. Some key concepts to understand include pods, services, deployments, and nodes.

Pods are the smallest deployable units in Kubernetes and represent one or more containers that share the same network namespace. Services provide an external IP address for accessing a set of pods and can load-balance traffic across them.

Familiarity with Nginx configuration files and commands

Nginx is a popular open-source web server that can be used as a reverse proxy, load balancer, or HTTP cache. It is highly configurable through its configuration files located in /etc/nginx/.

Before deploying Nginx on a Kubernetes cluster, it is important to have some familiarity with these configuration files as well as common commands for starting, stopping, reloading or debugging Nginx. Some common configuration options include server blocks (defining how Nginx responds to requests), upstream blocks (defining back-end servers), logging options (capturing relevant information about requests), proxy_pass (proxying requests to back-end servers) etc.

Common commands include nginx -t for testing syntax errors in configuration files before reloading them with systemctl reload nginx command which allows you to reload configuration changes without interrupting active connections.

Access to a Kubernetes cluster

Before deploying Nginx on a Kubernetes cluster, you need to have access to a cluster. You can either create a local development cluster using tools like minikube or microk8s or use a cloud provider like Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. Regardless of the choice, you will need to have the necessary permissions and credentials to access and manage the Kubernetes cluster.

Setting up the Environment

Installing kubectl and configuring it to connect to the cluster

Before deploying Nginx on a Kubernetes cluster, we need to install kubectl. kubectl is a command-line tool used for managing Kubernetes clusters.

It allows you to deploy, inspect, and manage applications on your Kubernetes cluster. To install kubectl, you can follow the instructions provided by the official Kubernetes documentation based on your operating system.

Once you have installed kubectl, you need to configure it to connect to your Kubernetes cluster. This involves providing the IP address or DNS name of your master node along with authentication credentials.

You can configure this using the kubectl config command-line tool. After configuring kubectl, ensure that it connects successfully by running basic commands such as `kubectl get nodes`.

Creating a namespace for Nginx deployment

A namespace is an isolated virtual cluster within a physical Kubernetes cluster that allows multiple teams or projects to safely share resources without interfering with each other. By creating a separate namespace for our Nginx deployment, we can keep things organized and prevent any conflicts with other deployments running in the same cluster.

To create a new namespace for our Nginx deployment, run `kubectl create namespace ` using your desired name for the namespace instead of ``. After creating this namespace, all subsequent commands will be executed within this environment unless otherwise specified.

Configuring persistent storage for Nginx

Nginx requires persistent storage in order to store configuration files and logs. Typically, this involves creating a PersistentVolumeClaim (PVC) which requests storage from available storage classes within your cluster. To create a PVC, first define its YAML file containing details such as access mode (e.g., ReadWriteOnce), size of required storage (e.g., 1Gi), and the storage class to use.

Then, create the PVC using `kubectl apply -f ` command. The PVC will automatically bind to an available PersistentVolume (PV) and mount it in the desired location within your Nginx deployment.

Setting up the environment involves installing kubectl, configuring it to connect to your Kubernetes cluster, creating a namespace for your Nginx deployment, and configuring persistent storage for Nginx. These steps can be done relatively quickly and will ensure that you have everything you need before moving on to deploying Nginx on Kubernetes.

Deploying Nginx on Kubernetes

Creating a Deployment

In order to deploy Nginx on a Kubernetes cluster, you will need to create a Deployment object. A Deployment is responsible for managing the state of your application by ensuring that the desired number of replicas are created and maintained.

To create a deployment, you'll need to define the container image, ports, volume mounts, etc. Firstly, you will need to create a YAML configuration file describing the deployment object.

This YAML file should contain relevant information about the container image that will be running Nginx, such as its name and version number. Additionally, port numbers for accessing your application through HTTP or HTTPS can also be specified in this file.

Creating a Service

After creating a Deployment object for Nginx on your Kubernetes cluster, it's time to create a Service object. A service provides network access to one or more pods running within your cluster by exposing them through an IP address and port number combination. When creating a service in Kubernetes, we provide selectors that match labels defined in our deployment definition file; thus associating our service with our deployment.

The selectors help identify which pods should be targeted by traffic coming into or out of the service. The exposed IP address is called ClusterIP which is an internal IP address only accessible from within the cluster network itself but not from outside networks unless accessed via node ports or load balancers configured later at Ingress Controller level.

Configuring Ingress Controller

An Ingress controller is a Kubernetes resource that enables external access to the services in your cluster. It acts as a reverse proxy, routing incoming traffic to the appropriate service within your cluster based on rules defined in an ingress resource object.

provider or cluster. Once installed, you will define an ingress resource object containing rules for routing external traffic to services defined in previous steps.


Deploying Nginx onto a Kubernetes cluster may seem daunting at first glance, but following this guide should give even those new to these systems confidence in their ability to get started and navigate the process. By using the techniques outlined in this article, you can quickly deploy, monitor, and scale your Nginx deployment on Kubernetes with minimal downtime.

The use of Prometheus monitoring also ensures that any issues are identified and addressed before they become significant problems. With these technologies at your disposal, you can confidently create a robust and highly scalable infrastructure to meet the needs of your organization or project.

Updated on: 10-Jul-2023


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