Deploying a SSL Protected Containerized App: Part 3


Let’s quickly do a checklist of what we have so far

  1. SSH Accessible Virtual Machine (Running Centos 7.4)
  2. Ports 22, 443, 80 are open on the virtual machine
  3. Domain pointed at the public IP of the Virtual machine
  4. SSL Certificate generated on the virtual machine
  5. Docker CE installed on the virtual machine

If you have not completed the steps above, review part 1 and part 2.

Deploying the Final Stack

SSH into the virtual machine and swap to the root user.

Move to the root directory of the machine (Running cd /)

Creating our directories

Create two directories (This is done for simplicity)

  • certs – This will be used to store the SSL certificates to be used in our NGINX container

Mkdir /certs

  • docker – This will be used to store our docker related files (docker-compose.yml

Mkdir /docker

Swap to the docker directory

cd /docker

Create a docker compose file with the following content (It is case and space sensitive, read more about docker compose).

Moving and renaming our SSL Certificates

Unfortunately, Nginx-Proxy must read the SSL certificates as <domain name>.crt and the key as <domain name>.key. as such we need to move and rename the original certificates generated for our domain.

Run the following commands to copy the certificates to the relevant folders and rename:

cp /etc/letsencrypt/live/<your domain>/fullchain.pem /certs/<your domain>.crt

cp /etc/letsencrypt/live/<your domain>/privkey.pem /certs/<your domain>.key

Creating a docker-compose.yml file

The docker compose file will dictate our stack.

Run  the following command to create the file at /docker/docker-compose.yml

vi /docker/docker-compose.yml

Populate the file with the following content

Line by line:

version: "3.3"
    image: jwilder/nginx-proxy #nginx proxy image
      - "443:443"  #binding the host port 443 to container 443 port
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock:ro      
      - /certs:/etc/nginx/certs #Mounting the SSL certificates to the image 
     -  webnet  
    image: dockersamples/visualizer:stable 
      - "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock"   
      - VIRTUAL_HOST=<Your DOMAIN ie.>
  - webnet


– VIRTUAL_HOST=<your domain ie.>



Save the file by press esc than :wq

Starting the stack

Start docker

systemctl start docker

Pull the images

docker pull jwilder/nginx-proxy:latest

docker pull dockersamples/visualizer

Start the swarm

docker swarm init

Deploy the swarm

docker stack deploy -c /docker/docker-compose.yml test-stack

Congratulations! If you have done everything right you should now have a SSL protected visualizer when you browse https://<your domain>

Figure 1: Final Stack Visualization


To troubleshoot any problems check all services have a running container by running

docker service ls

Figure 2: Example of troubleshooting output

Check the replicas count. If the nginx image is not running, check that the mounted .certs path does exist.

If the nginx container is running, you can run

docker service <service Id> logs --follow

then try access the https://<your domain> and see whether the connection is coming through.

  • If it is than check the environment variable in your docker-compose
  • If it is not than check that the port 443 is open and troubleshoot connectivity to the server

Deploying a SSL Protected Containerized App: Part 1


One of the greatest motivations for me is seeing the current open-source projects. It is amazing to be apart of a community that truly transcends race, age, gender, education that culminates in the development of society changing technologies, it is not difficult to be optimistic about the future.

With that, lets deploy a containerized application behind a Nginx Reverse Proxy with a free SSL encrypted. This entire deployment will only cost you a domain.

Technologies Used

The technologies used in this series are:


Figure 1: Application Architecture

Getting Started

To start, I would advise signing up to a Azure trial . This will help you get started without any hassle.

If you have your own hosted VM or are doing a locally hosted docker stack please feel free to skip this part and move onto part 2.

Deploying the Virtual Machine

Select the image

Figure 2: Selecting a VM
  1. In the side menu press Virtual Machines
  2. Press “Add”
  3. Select the “CentOS-based 7.4” image
  4. Press “Ok”

Note: Technically you can use any image that can run docker. 

Configure the machine

Figure 3: Configuring basic settings
  1.  Name the VM – ie. DockerHost
  2. Change disk type to HDD (To save credit)
  3. Set the username
  4. Change authentication type to password for simplicity
  5. Set the password
  6. Confirm the password
  7. Create a new Resource Group (Such as SSLTest)

Select Machine Size

Figure 4: Selecting a VM Size
  1. Select a machine size, I chose the D4S_V3 (4 vCPUs, 16GB) however any image with 2 or more vCPUs and more than 8GB of RAM is sufficient.

Virtual Machine Settings

Figure 5: Configuring VM settings

You can leave default settings for the settings. (I switched off auto-shutdown).

Note: Make sure public IP address has been enabled

Wait for the Virtual Machine to finishing deploying…

Configuring DNS

Find the public IP address

After the machine has been successfully configured, browse to the virtual machine in Azure and get the public IP.

Figure 6: Identifying the public IP

Create the TXT file

Log onto your domain provide (i.e. and create a TXT file to point your domain address to the newly created VM.

Figure 7: Creating a TXT record

Do a simple “nslookup ​​<domain>” till you can confirm that the domain has been updated.

Opening up ports 443, 80, 22

Figure 8: Editing network interfaces


Browse to the virtual machine and browse to “Networking” in Azure. The following ports need to be allowed for inbound traffic

443 – This will be used to receive the SSL protected HTTPS requests

80 – This will be used temporarily to recieve your SSL certificate

22 – This should be open already however if it isn’t, allow 22 traffic for SSH connections.

SSH into the VM and allow root access (Dev only)

Using putty if you are on windows or just terminal on a Mac or Linux workstation, attempt to SSH into the machine.

After successfully logging in (Using the specified credentials when creating the VM), enable the root user for ease of use for the purpose of this tutorial (Do not do this for production environments).

This can be done by running

sudo passwd root

Specify the new root password

Confirm the root password

Congratulations you have completed part 1 of this tutorial, now that you have a virtual machine ready, let move on to part 2.