Microsoft previews Azure Container Instances - with per-second billing

Image Microsoft

Image Microsoft

Microsoft has announced its new service Azure Container Instances (ACI), which it says will make it easier to deploy containers in the cloud.

With the recent joining of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Microsoft has reiterated its interest for software containers.

"The reason I avoided containers on Azure was because I did not want to have to create Hyper-V instances, which for our small application, would be the same effort as deploying to a VM and maintaining it", said Chris Riley, DevOps analyst with Fixate IO, a content strategy consulting firm based in Livermore, Calif., and a TechTarget contributor. ACI looks useful, if only as a quick way to deploy, test and tear down containerized applications with little pain, presuming the service works as advertised.

One key difference between ACI and ACS: ACI supports only one orchestrator, Kubernetes, and only by way of an open source connector.

For starter, Kubenetes is an open source container orchestration platform for automating deployment, scaling and managing cloud workloads through container tech. Functions is for little more than code snippets, typically used for fulfilling API requests or other simple jobs.

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Currently, container instances are only available for Linux containers, the post said.

The jury is out right now regarding how deeply ACI will be integrated with other Microsoft Azure offerings, such as Azure Service Fabric. This enables on-demand and almost instantaneous container compute, orchestrated by Kubernetes, without having VM infrastructure to manage and while still leveraging the portable Kubernetes API.

"No other leading public cloud providers are set up to match the offer because they are depending on third-party platforms to deliver hybrid cloud; for example, AWS via VMware and Red Hat, and Google via Nutanix", he said. As the service directly exposes containers, there is no VM management you need to think about or higher-level cluster orchestration concepts to learn. For Windows-based enterprises hoping to leverage cloud native technologies, Microsoft's support ensures maximum flexibility and choice to Azure users. This will allow you to utilize both VMs and container instances simultaneously in the same K8s cluster, giving you the best of both worlds.

Doing so will also allow BP to start using state-of-the-art visualisation and predictive tools, enabling the company to benefit from rapid data analysis, with faster insights and decision-making. CNCF is a Collaborative Project of the Linux Foundation (that Microsoft joined last year) which hosts and provides governance for a wide range of projects including Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, containerd, Helm, gRPC, and many others.

Microsoft has also announced that it is joining the Cloud Native Foundation (CNCF) - a project of the Linux Foundation - as a Platinum member, one of 15 such members alongside Google, IBM and RedHat (just a sniff of "anyone but AWS" here).

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