Microsoft previews pay-for-use Kubernetes on Azure

Microsoft regards containerisation as the next phase in enterprise architectures, and is now offering Kubernetes on Azure

Microsoft has introduced a preview of Azure Container Service (AKS), a managed Kubernetes service, which the company said offers easier management and developer support.

Writing on the Microsoft blog, Gabe Monroy, programme manager lead of containers at Microsoft Azure, said: “More than ever, Microsoft is contributing upstream to Kubernetes and developing innovative software.

“We have seen customers fall in love with our current Kubernetes support on Azure Container Service, currently known as ACS, which has grown 300% in the past six months.”

The new Azure service offers automated upgrades, self-healing, easy scaling, and a simple user experience for both developers and cluster operators, according to Monroy.

“With AKS, customers get the benefit of open source Kubernetes without complexity and operational overhead,” he added.

Monroy said organisations wishing to deploy containerised applications using AKS will only pay for what they use.

“You only pay for the VMs [virtual machines] that add value to your business. Unlike other cloud providers that charge an hourly rate for the management infrastructure, with AKS you will pay nothing for the management of your Kubernetes cluster – ever. After all, the cloud should be about only paying for what you consume,” he said.

According to Monroy, Windows containers are not yet supported in AKS because some of the core Kubernetes components need to to run on Linux server. The company said it has plans to make Windows-only and mixed Linux/Windows support available.

In 2016, Microsoft poached Brendan Burns, the co-founder of Kubernetes, from Google. The company recently bolstered Kubernetes support with the acquisition of Deis, the company that makes Draft, a tool for prototyping containers.

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At the time, Burns wrote on the Kubernetes blog: “While by now the strengths of Kubernetes for deploying and managing applications at scale are well understood, the process of developing a new application for Kubernetes is still too hard. It’s harder still if you are new to containers, Kubernetes or developing cloud applications.

“Draft fills this role. As its name implies, it is a tool that helps you begin that first draft of a containerised application running in Kubernetes. When you first run the draft tool, it automatically discovers the code that you are working on and builds out the scaffolding to support containerising your application.”

In Forrester’s Vendor landscape: container solutions for cloud-native applications report by Charlie Dai and Dave Bartoletti, the analysts regard containerisation as an important shift in enetrprise software.

Container technologies allow enterprises to develop highly differentiated apps and services faster, with better quality and geographic reach, to create compelling customer experiences,” the report said.

The analysts said container technologies have quickly become an important element of digital business transformation because they promise faster software delivery, tremendous scale, higher resiliency, greater flexibility and broader implementation options.

“Everything about enterprise app infrastructures, development styles and architectures is changing, and containers play a key role in each area,” said Dai and Bartoletti.

Microsoft regards containerisation as the next evolution of its public cloud strategy. In April, Scott Guthrie, executive vice-president of the cloud and enterprise group at Microsoft, blogged: “We’ve seen explosive growth in both interest and deployment of containerised workloads on Azure, and we’re committed to ensuring Azure is the best place to run them.”

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