Microsoft, at its Build 2020 conference this week, announced a technology preview of an extension of its Arc framework for managing IT via the Azure cloud to Kubernetes clusters.
Azure Arc is a management platform available in preview that Microsoft announced last fall to makes it easier to deploy and manage Azure service across multiple clouds and on-premises IT environments. Microsoft is now extending that capability via Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes, which creates a managed identity for the cluster within the Azure Portal by assigning an Azure Resource Manager ID. Kubernetes clusters can be attached to standard Azure subscriptions, participate in a resource group and be assigned tags like any other Azure resource.
Connecting a Kubernetes cluster to Azure requires an administrator to deploy agents, which run in a Kubernetes namespace dubbed azure-arc. Those agents not only connect a Kubernetes cluster to Azure Arc, but they also collect logs and metrics in addition to monitoring configuration requests. IT teams can also apply policies to any distribution of Kubernetes using the Azure Policy for Kubernetes service.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella this week described Azure Arc as a control plane for hybrid cloud computing. As such, Azure Arc is designed to embrace both cloud-native platforms such as Kubernetes as well as instances of Windows and Linux running inside and out of the cloud. In addition to providing support for Kubernetes clusters, Microsoft and SUSE this week also announced Azure Arc support for both SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and the SUSE CaaS Platform, an application development and deployment environment based on Kubernetes.
SUSE President of Engineering and Innovation Thomas Di Giacomo says platforms such as Azure Arc are starting to gain traction as organizations embrace modern platforms for building cloud-native applications that are more flexible and resilient. At the same time, organizations are also starting to consider how to reduce the total cost of IT by centralizing the management of public cloud and on-premises IT platforms via the cloud, he notes.
That’s become especially critical as IT organizations start to realize that, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they will need to be able to remotely manage highly distributed IT environments from home for a potentially long time to come, he adds.
Microsoft is not the only IT vendor that views the rise of hybrid cloud computing as an opportunity to extend its reach. Cloud rivals such as Amazon Web Services and Google have launched hybrid cloud computing initiatives, while Dell Technologies is looking to extend the reach of its management planes into the cloud. As hybrid cloud computing becomes a bigger imperative, competition among all the major IT vendors in the months ahead will be especially fierce.
Of course, no two organizations will be embracing hybrid cloud computing at the same rate. Most IT organizations are already employing multiple clouds that are today managed in isolation for each other. Only a small percentage of those organizations have deployed Kubernetes clusters in production environments at scale. However, those that do embrace Kubernetes are about to discover how much easier managing hybrid clouds can be when they all have a common Kubernetes foundation.