Free and Standard pricing tiers for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) control plane management

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is now offering two pricing tiers for control plane management: the Free tier and the Standard tier.

Free tier Standard tier
When to use • You want to experiment with AKS at no extra cost
• You're new to AKS and Kubernetes
• You're running production or mission-critical workloads and need high availability and reliability
• You need a financially backed SLA
Supported cluster types • Development clusters or small scale testing environments
• Clusters with fewer than 10 nodes
• Enterprise-grade or production workloads
• Clusters with up to 5,000 nodes
Pricing • Free cluster management
• Pay-as-you-go for resources you consume
• Pay-as-you-go for resources you consume
Feature comparison • Recommended for clusters with fewer than 10 nodes, but can support up to 1,000 nodes
• Includes all current AKS features
• Uptime SLA is enabled by default
• Greater control plane reliability and resources
• Can support up to 5,000 nodes in a cluster
• Includes all current AKS features

For more information on pricing, see the AKS pricing details.

Uptime SLA

Important

Uptime SLA has been repositioned as a default feature included with the Standard tier.

The repositioning will result in the following API changes:

Prior to 2023-01-01 API Starting from 2023-01-01 API Starting from 2023-07-01 API
ManagedClusterSKUName "Basic" "Basic"
"Base"
"Base"
ManagedClusterSKUTier "Free"
"Paid"
"Free"
"Paid"
"Standard"
"Free"
"Standard"

"Basic" and "Paid" will be removed in the 2023-07-01 API version, and this will be a breaking change in API version 2023-07-01 or newer. If you use automated scripts, CD pipelines, ARM templates, Terraform, or other third-party tooling that relies on the above parameters, please be sure to make the necessary changes before upgrading to the 2023-07-01 or newer API version. From API version 2023-01-01 and newer, you can start transitioning to the new API parameters "Base" and "Standard".

For more information, see SLA for AKS.

Uptime SLA terms and conditions

The Uptime SLA feature is included in the Standard tier and is enabled per cluster. For more information on pricing, see the AKS pricing details.

Region availability

  • Uptime SLA is available in public regions and Azure Government regions where AKS is supported.
  • Uptime SLA is available for private AKS clusters in all public regions where AKS is supported.

Before you begin

Azure CLI version 2.8.0 or later and configured. Run az --version to find the version. If you need to install or upgrade, see Install Azure CLI.

Creating a new cluster in the Free tier or Standard tier

Use the Azure CLI to create a new cluster on an AKS pricing tier. You can create your cluster in an existing resource group or create a new one. To learn more about resource groups and working with them, see managing resource groups using the Azure CLI.

Use the az aks create command to create an AKS cluster. The commands below show you how to create a new resource group named myResourceGroup and a cluster named myAKSCluster in that resource group in each tier.

# Create a new AKS cluster in the Free tier

az aks create --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster --no-uptime-sla

# Create a new AKS cluster in the Standard tier

az aks create --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster --uptime-sla

Note

The outputs to --no-uptime-sla and --uptime-sla correspond to API properties prior to the 2023-01-01 API version. Starting in Azure CLI 2.46.0:

  • --tier free will correspond to the existing --no-uptime-sla parameter.
  • --tier standard will correspond to the existing --uptime-sla parameter.
  • The CLI output "Basic" for ManagedClusterSKUName will correspond to the API property: "Base".
  • The CLI output "Free" or "Paid" for ManagerClusterSKUTier will correspond to the API properties: "Free" or "Standard".

Once the deployment completes, it returns JSON-formatted information about your cluster:

# Sample output for `--no-uptime-sla`

  },
  "sku": {
    "name": "Basic",
    "tier": "Free"
  },

# Sample output for `uptime-sla`

  },
  "sku": {
    "name": "Basic",
    "tier": "Paid"
  },

Update the tier of an existing cluster

The following example uses the az aks update command to update the existing cluster.

# Update an existing cluster to the Free tier

az aks update --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster --no-uptime-sla

# Update an existing cluster to the Standard tier

az aks update --resource-group myResourceGroup --name myAKSCluster --uptime-sla

This process takes several minutes to complete. When finished, the following example JSON snippet shows the paid tier for the SKU, indicating your cluster is enabled with Uptime SLA.

  },
  "sku": {
    "name": "Basic",
    "tier": "Paid"
  },

Next steps