Microsoft Looks to Make Azure More Container Friendly With Container Instances

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If you look at any recent earnings report from Microsoft, there is one consistent segment of growth that is outpacing other company operations, cloud services. Microsoft’s Azure platform is the backbone of the future of the company and they are continuously making large investments in this platform.

Announced today, Microsoft is making it easier to deploy and manage containers in Azure without the need to manage a virtual machine. The service is being called Azure Container Instances (ACI) and the company says this is the fastest and easiest way to run a container in the cloud.

The new containers will be customizable based on your needs with the ability to define the amount of memory needed and an exact count of vCPUs. The company says that these containers will be first-class objects on Azure and will also offer Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) as well.

Somewhat surprising is that the service is entering preview today for Linux containers only. The company says that Windows container support will be available in the coming weeks and that all containers will be billed by the second so that you don’t pay for when you are not using the service.

This new container service is not an orchestrator and the company does not plan to turn this service into that type of product but they do intend for ACI to fuel orchestrators. As part of the announcement today, Microsoft is also releasing an open source ACI connector for Kubernetes that enables Kubernetes clusters to deploy to Azure Container Instances.

With this new service and connector, the goal is to allow for rapid scaling of compute using Kubernetes without having to manage a VM infrastructure. This will allow you to use both VMs and container instances at the same time in the same K8 clusters to extract the strengths of both technologies as workloads spin up and slow down.

Microsoft is working to make Azure the most flexible cloud product available and while Amazon has its unique way of building out its platform, Microsoft continues to push further into the open-source world of technologies with ACI being the latest step in that process. I’ll be curious to see how this new service is utilized and the feedback from developers as they build out with this new model to see if it truly is an easier way to manage your containers and more importantly if it is a cost-effective solution.