Deployment to Kubernetes

Using the Codefresh GUI to deploy to a Kubernetes cluster

In this tutorial we will see how you can use Codefresh to deploy a Docker image to a Kubernetes cluster and also how to setup an automated pipeline to automatically redeploy it when the source code changes.

Even though, in this tutorial we use Codefresh to deploy docker images directly to the Kubernetes cluster, in production you will use Helm Charts provided by Eupraxia Labs. Helm is a package manager for Kubernetes that allows you to deploy multiple applications at once as a single entity (Helm Charts) and also perform rollbacks to previous versions. Like Kubernetes, Codefresh has native support for Helm deployments including a release dashboard.

Notice that for this tutorial we will use the GUI provided by Codefresh to both create the Kubernetes service inside the cluster and also to create the CI/CD pipeline that keeps it up to date. In a real world scenario it is best if you use Codefresh YAML which is much more powerful and flexible.

Codefresh also offers several alternative ways of deploying to Kubernetes.


At the end of this tutorial we will have a pipeline that:

  1. Checks out code from GitHub and creates a Docker image
  2. Stores it in the default Docker registry of your Codefresh account
  3. Notifies the Kubernetes cluster that a new version of the application is present. Kubernetes will pull the new image and deploy it

Deployment overview

A complete CI/CD pipeline

For simplicity reasons, we will use the default Docker registry that is setup globally in your Codefresh account. For your own application you can also use any other of your registries even if it is not the default.


It is assumed that:

Notice that for this tutorial you don’t need a Kubernetes deployment file. Codefresh will create one for you via its friendly GUI. If you already have an existing deployment file for your own application, consult the main K8s documentation on how to use it.

Deploying a Docker image to Kubernetes manually

Codefresh offers a dedicated GUI that allows you to deploy any Docker image to your cluster without writing any configuration files at all.

Click the Kubernetes button from the left side bar. The screen that appears is the Codefresh overview of your Kubernetes cluster that shows all your deployments (pods and namespaces)

Codefresh Kubernetes Dashboard

Codefresh Kubernetes Dashboard (click image to enlarge)

Click the Add Service button on the top right. The screen that appears is a friendly UI that allows you to create a Kubernetes deployment (and associated service). You can also toggle the top right button to define a Kubernetes YAML yourself, but for the purposes of this tutorial we will only use the GUI.

Codefresh Kubernetes add service

Codefresh Kubernetes add service (click image to enlarge)

The fields in this screen are:

  • Cluster - choose your cluster if you have more than one.
  • Namespace - select the namespace where the application will be deployed to (default will work just fine).
  • Service Name - enter any arbitrary name for your service.
  • Replicas - how many replicas you want for resiliency. This affects pricing, so 1 is a good value for a demo.
  • Expose Port - check it so that your application is available outside the cluster .
  • Image - enter the fully qualified name of your Docker image.
  • Image Pull Secret - select your default Docker registry and create a pull secret for it.
  • Internal Ports - which port is exposed from your application. The example Python app we deploy, exposes 5000.

From the same screen you can also define environment variables and cpu/mem limits.

You can see the full name of the Docker image, in the Images tab of the Codefresh GUI of your build.

Finding the full name of a Docker image

Finding the full name of a Docker image (click image to enlarge)

By default, Codefresh appends the branch name of a git commit to the resulting Docker image. This is why in the Image field we used the branch name as tag

Do not use latest for your deployments. This doesn’t help you to understand which version is deployed. Use either branch names or even better git hashes so that you know exactly what is deployed on your Kubernetes cluster. Notice also that the YML manifest Codefresh is creating has an image pull policy of always, so the cluster will always redeploy the latest image even if it has the same name as the previous one.

Finally click the deploy button. Codefresh will create a Kubernetes YAML file behind the scenes and apply it to your Kubernetes cluster. The cluster will contact the Codefresh registry and pull the image. The cluster will then create all the needed resources (service, deployments, pods) in order to make the application available.

You can watch the status of the deployment right from the Codefresh UI.

Codefresh K8s deployment

Codefresh K8s deployment (click image to enlarge)

Once the deployment is complete, you will also see the public URL of the application. You can visit it in the browser and see the application running.

Example Python Application

Example Python Application (click image to enlarge)

This concludes the manual deployment. We deployed a Docker image from Codefresh to a Kubernetes cluster without writing any YAML files at all! The next step is to automate this process so that every time a commit happens in git, the application will be redeployed.

Automating deployments to Kubernetes

The application is now running successfully in the Kubernetes cluster. We will setup a pipeline in Codefresh so that any commits that happen in GitHub, are automatically redeploying the application, giving us a true CI/CD pipeline.

To do this, we will add two extra steps in the basic pipeline created in the previous tutorial.

Here is the complete pipeline:


version: '1.0'
- checkout
- package
- test
- upload
- deploy
  title: Cloning main repository...
  type: git-clone
  repo: '${{CF_REPO_OWNER}}/${{CF_REPO_NAME}}'
  revision: '${{CF_REVISION}}'
  stage: checkout
  title: Building Docker Image
  type: build
  stage: package
  image_name: my-app-image
  working_directory: ./
  tag: '${{CF_BRANCH}}'
  dockerfile: Dockerfile
  disable_push: true
  title: Running Unit tests
  image: '${{MyAppDockerImage}}'
  stage: test
  - python test    
    title: Pushing to DockerHub Registry
    type: push
    stage: upload
    tag: '${{CF_BRANCH}}'
    candidate: '${{MyAppDockerImage}}'
    image_name: kkapelon/pythonflasksampleapp #Change kkapelon to your dockerhub username
    registry: dockerhub # Name of your integration as was defined in the Registry screen
    title: deploying to cluster
    type: deploy
    stage: deploy
    kind: kubernetes
  ## cluster name as the shown in account's integration page
  cluster:  my-demo-k8s-cluster
  # desired namespace
  namespace: default
  service: python-demo
  # The image that will replace the original deployment image
  # The image that been build using Build step
  image: kkapelon/pythonflasksampleapp:${{CF_BRANCH}}
  # The registry that the user's Kubernetes cluster can pull the image from
  # Codefresh will generate (if not found) secret and add it to the deployment so the Kubernetes master can pull it
  registry: dockerhub   

You can see that we have added a new deploy step at the end of the pipeline. Deploy steps allow you to deploy Kubernetes applications in a declarative manner. Codefresh offers many more ways for Kubernetes deployments.

The deploy step will update an existing Kubernetes deployment and will optionally create a pull secret for the image if needed, but it will not create any Kubernetes services (which is ok in our case as we created it manually in the previous section).

Once all the details are filled in the pipeline editor, click the Save button.

Now we will change the application in the production branch and commit/push the change to Git.

Git change

Git change (click image to enlarge)

Codefresh will pick the change automatically and trigger a new build that deploys the new version:

Codefresh K8s deployment

Codefresh K8s deployment (click image to enlarge)

Once the build is complete, if you visit again the URL you will see your change applied.

Example Python Application after change

Example Python Application after change (click image to enlarge)

You now have a complete CI/CD pipeline in Codefresh for fully automated builds to Kubernetes!