Automation for Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes

Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters allow you to manage Kubernetes clusters that are hosted outside Azure, on your corporate network, or on another cloud provider. This article provides an overview of automation for cluster onboarding and adding extra capabilities through cluster extensions. The following sections contain considerations and recommendations for your operations team(s) to use when onboarding and automating Azure Arc-enabled clusters throughout their lifecycles.


The following diagram contains a conceptual reference architecture that highlights onboarding and automation design areas for Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes:

Diagram that shows onboarding and extension Integration.

Design Considerations

Consider the following before you onboard Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters to Azure:


Environment Preparation

  • You must have a cluster admin role on your Kubernetes cluster before you can deploy and configure the Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes agent.

Onboard Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes

  • Decide on a plan to install and configure the Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes agent on your cluster. You should usually deploy this agent using your organization's standard automation tool(s).

Cluster Extensions

  • Determine which Azure capabilities you want to have on your Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes cluster. Some services require a cluster extension to be deployed.

Network Connectivity

Agent lifecycle automation

  • Create an Azure Arc agent and Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes extensions update management strategy.

Design recommendations

The following sections contain design recommendations for Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters.

Environment preparation

Onboard Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters

  • When onboarding multiple clusters, create a service principal and onboard your clusters using a tooling like Azure DevOps, GitHub Actions, or another automation tool you use to manage Kubernetes clusters.

Arc-enabled Kubernetes extensions

  • If you're deploying an extension only to a specific Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes cluster or clusters, automate the installation of these extensions through Azure CLI and/or ARM templates using tools such as Azure DevOps or GitHub Actions.
  • If an extension is common across all your Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters or large groups of Arc-enabled Kubernetes clusters, use Azure Policy to automate the deployment of Arc extensions at scale.

Agent and extensions lifecycle automation

During the onboarding process, Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes provisions agents into your Kubernetes cluster. Agent versions change as Azure Arc technologies evolve, so it's important for your agents to be frequently updated.

  • Enable the auto-upgrade feature for Azure Arc agents running inside your cluster, which is the default behavior when onboarding a cluster to Azure Arc.

  • Extensions also require updates in your cluster. For any extension installed on your cluster, we recommend that you leave the default behavior to automatically upgrade the extension minor version enabled during provisioning. For major version upgrades, a migration path is documented to move to the extension major release.

Next steps

For more information about your hybrid and multicloud cloud journey, see the following articles.