Microsoft Further Embraces Kubernetes and Containers

Microsoft this week at the Ignite 2018 conference made it clear that Kubernetes is at the heart of its hybrid cloud computing strategy spanning the network edge to the cloud.

As part of that effort, Microsoft has launched a private beta of a capability that enables developers employing Azure Container Instances to dynamically burst workloads using the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Based on an implementation of KubeVirt, an application programing interface and runtime based on Kubernetes, the capability has the goal of making it easier for  organizations to spin up Kubernetes clusters whenever necessary, rather than having to do it themselves manually, says Gabe Monroy, lead program manager for containers on Azure.

Microsoft this week also announced general availability of the latest version of Azure Container Registry (ACR). It includes support for ACR Tasks, a tool for building container images on Linux, Windows and ARM systems that also automates operating system and framework patching for Docker containers. It also enables automated builds on source code commit or when a container’s base image is updated.

Less further along are additional services that Microsoft is making available as public previews, including an instance of ACR Tasks that supports more complex workflows; an instance of ACR that supports the Docker content trust model; an instance of ACR that supports Helm repositories; and an instance of ACR that supports the Open Container Initiative (OCI) format.

At the same time, Microsoft is moving to optimize Docker containers running on a forthcoming edition of Windows Server 2019 that is expected to become generally available soon. The goal is to reduce the Server Core base container image to a third of its current size of 5GB. Microsoft claims this change will reduce the download time of the image by 72 percent. Microsoft is also promising there will be significant improvement to the compute, storage and networking components of a Kubernetes cluster running on Windows Server. Kubernetes support on Windows Server is currently in beta.

Microsoft this week also announced a new public preview of an instance of Kubernetes running on Azure Stack. That offering enables IT organizations to deploy the same instance of Kubernetes that Microsoft uses in its cloud service in an on-premises environment. Microsoft is in effect giving organizations a choice between deploying containers and Kubernetes on either Windows Server or Azure Stack. The latter platform requires substantially more compute and storage resources to run than Windows Server 2019.

Monroy made it clear that Microsoft views Kubernetes as a vehicle to unify hybrid cloud computing from the cloud all the way to an emerging range of internet of things (IoT) applications. As part of the that effort, Microsoft is making is easier to embed functions within containers that can be used to invoke a serverless computing framework on-demand.

Of course, Microsoft is not the only vendor with similar ambitions. In fact, before too long IT organizations should be able to leverage Kubernetes to invoke services across multiple clouds in any way they see fit.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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