Microsoft Application Services Rides Azure Arc to Reach Kubernetes Clusters

Microsoft this week during its online Microsoft Build 2021 conference announced a preview of Azure application services, which leverages the Azure Arc management platform to extend the reach of a framework for building web applications to any instance of Kubernetes running in an on-premises IT environment or public cloud.

In addition, the company announced that Open Service Mesh, a lightweight alternative for managing application programming interfaces (APIs), is now available in preview on the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

Finally, Microsoft also announced that AKS is now generally available on the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform dubbed Azure Stacks HCI, which enables IT teams to deploy the same cloud-based Azure platform in an on-premises IT environment.

Azure application services is based on a core managed Azure App Service for building and managing web applications and APIs. It includes Azure Functions for building event-driven applications using a serverless computing framework, Azure Event Grid to manage event-driven applications, Azure Logic Apps for automating workflows across a library of more than 400 connectors, and Azure API Management to observe internal and external application programming interfaces.

Microsoft is now starting to build on an Azure Arc foundation that extends the control plane Microsoft uses to manage its public cloud to anywhere an instance of Kubernetes is deployed. Azure application services is in effect a managed DevOps platform that is now being extended across a hybrid cloud computing environment that is created when Azure Arc is installed in an on-premises IT environment.

By assigning an Azure Resource Manager ID via the Azure Portal, Azure Arc attaches a standard Azure subscription to a Kubernetes cluster, which enables it to participate in a resource group and be assigned tags like any other Azure resource. Azure application services extends that capability to enable developers to employ an Azure Function to target a Kubernetes cluster rather than an Azure region to launch Azure Functions pods.

Gabe Monroy, vice president of Azure Developer Experience at Microsoft, told conference attendees that organizations are rapidly shifting toward building and deploying cloud-native applications to drive a wide range of digital business transformation initiatives. Cloud-native applications, however, are complex to build, deploy and manage. Microsoft is making available a complete managed environment for building these applications that includes Kubernetes, developer tools and a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform integrated with GitHub to make it easier to build and deploy next-generation applications infused with artificial intelligence (AI), he says.

It’s not clear at what rate organizations will be transitioning to managed DevOps platforms to build and deploy applications. Microsoft is betting more organizations would prefer to rely on a managed service that enables them to allocate more resources to building applications versus managing the underlying DevOps infrastructure themselves. By making Azure application services available anywhere Kubernetes is deployed, Microsoft is now extending that strategy to include hybrid cloud computing environments.

There’s no doubt that thanks mainly to the increased urgency organizations are placing on business transformation, there is a need to build and applications faster than ever. The debate now is how best to achieve that goal.

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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