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Goldilocks Zone for AKS

In this blog, we will look at the process used by Microsoft Azure to add support for new Kubernetes versions for their "Managed" Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). We will also look at recommendations for customers on things they need to consider to operate their AKS clusters at scale without issues.

Azure's AKS managed Kubernetes is supported globally in 60+ regions. As one can imagine, it is not practical to update software in all these regions in one fell swoop. The AKS team at Microsoft employs a Safe Deployment Practice (SDP) where new releases are rolled out gradually in phases. This means that any given time, something new is being rolled out to some region.


The AKS team maintains a Release Tracker that provides visibility to customers that require it.

Why a Goldilocks Zone for AKS?

Because of the SDP process described above, users should assume that the very latest versions may not be available in your region immediately. So, unless you absolutely have no other option, it would be ideal to operate in the "Goldilocks Zone" of Kubernetes versions for AKS where you are not too behind (Too Cold!) and not on the cutting edge (Too Hot!!).

Goldilocks Zone

How can Rafay Help?

All of our customers primarily use Rafay as a "Single Pane of Glass" for Kubernetes Operations. Many of them are hybrid or multi cloud and operate 100s of Kubernetes clusters. Let's look at this with a very specific example that is relevant to customers right now.

flowchart LR
    id1(AKS v1.23)
    id2(AKS v1.24)
    id3((AKS v1.25))
    id4(AKS v1.26)
    id1--EOL Apr 2023-->id2
    id2--EOL Jul 2023-->id3
    id3--EOL Dec 2023-->id4
  • The AKS team launched GA support for Kubernetes v1.25 in Dec 2022.
  • Following Azure's SDP process, it would have taken a few weeks for this new version to be available globally in all regions.
  • Kubernetes v1.25 support in AKS will be EOL'ed in Dec 2023.

Note that users with AKS clusters based on v1.23 have <6 weeks left before EOL in April 2023 (Freezing Cold!!) and those on v1.24 have until July 2023 (Getting Icy!!) before EOL. As you can see from above, the "Goldilocks Zone" currently for Kubernetes versions for AKS is v1.25. This version is globally available in every Azure region.

Customers are recommended to upgrade their AKS clusters to Kubernetes v1.25 ASAP. By doing so, they will benefit from a "Quiet Time" for another 6 months when it would be time to start planning for an upgrade to the next Kubernetes version (v1.26).


The AKS team publishes a release calendar that provides insight into support for current and upcoming Kubernetes versions.

AKS v1.25

Rafay's customers use the platform to ensure they can consistently "Operate in the Kubernetes Goldilocks Zone" without incurring substantial operating costs (people, tooling etc). Instead of spending millions of $$ on developing and maintaining bespoke tooling to manage cluster lifecycle management for AKS, EKS and GKE clusters, they offload this to the Rafay Kubernetes Operations Platform. With Rafay, they have the option of using their "preferred interface" for automation and lifecycle management

  1. Rafay Web Console (Click Ops)
  2. RCTL CLI (Declarative Spec based)
  3. Rafay GitOps with System Sync (IaC)
  4. Rafay Terraform Provider (IaC)
  5. API

New AKS Clusters

Customers can use Rafay to provision and operate new AKS clusters in the Goldilocks zone (v1.25)

New AKS Cluster v1.25

Upgrades Managed AKS Clusters

Customers can upgrade their existing AKS clusters to the Goldilocks zone (v1.25) using the Rafay platform. The platform maintains a detailed audit/history of upgrades performed on the cluster over its lifetime. See screenshot below for an example.

In-Place Upgrade of AKS Clusters

Upgrade Brownfield AKS Clusters

For customers that have brownfield AKS clusters (i.e. not managed by Rafay), they can have Rafay takeover lifecycle management of the AKS clusters so that they can streamline lifecycle management going forward.

Learn More?

Interested in learning more about how the Rafay Platform can help you with "Kubernetes Operations" for Azure AKS? Learn by Trying....

Kubernetes Operations for AKS