At AzureCon, a free virtual cloud-themed event, Microsoft today announced an upcoming Azure Container Service that brings the Apache Mesos cluster management technology to Docker deployments on the company's cloud. The service, available in preview later this year, comes courtesy of a partnership with San Francisco-based Mesosphere.
"Rather than building our own [container orchestration technology], we're taking what is popular in the market today," Mike Schutz, general manager of Microsoft Cloud Platform, told eWEEK. In some respects, the upcoming Mesos-powered container management offering is emblematic of Docker's growing popularity on Azure.
"Docker tooling has made it extremely easy to package and deploy Docker," noted Schutz. "As customers started to deploy them into production, management and production at scale is something that they were looking for."
Schutz also reported that enterprises are not just dabbling with Docker containers; they're putting the technology through its paces using real-world, production workloads. "Docker's popularity and use are increasing across customers of all sizes, not just startups," he said.
Microsoft also announced today that Azure IoT Suite is now generally available. The offering bundles several "Azure-based services into a set of preconfigured solutions," explained Schutz. Noting that "IoT projects are complex and take a long time to implement," he said, the offering enables organizations to quickly start "connecting thousands or tens of thousands of devices" and kick off their Internet of things (IoT) projects and initiatives.
A key component of the Azure IoT Suite is its data analytics capabilities, particularly predictive analytics, said Schutz. He envisions a new breed of service and repair organizations that fix problems before they surface, preventing equipment failures and potentially harmful malfunctions. He said this is "predictive maintenance where we see an opportunity."
The new Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT partner program, also announced today, guides customers to tested and certified third-party solutions. Partners include BeagleBone, Freescale, Intel, Raspberry Pi, Resin.io, Seeed Technology and Texas Instruments.
In terms of cloud security, Microsoft is providing improved visibility into customer environments with a new offering called Azure Security Center. "Think of it as a centralized service that gives customers security and control," said Schutz.
A unified dashboard enables administrators to set security policies and configure virtual machine firewalls or anti-malware. Using Microsoft's own security intelligence data, the service provides threat-detection capabilities. Available later this year, Azure Security Center also "integrates with a number of partner solutions, like Trend Micro and Cisco," Schutz said, allowing companies to extend their existing security investments.
Within the next few months, Microsoft plans to float a preview of N-series virtual machines powered by Nvidia graphical-processing units (GPUs). Amazon launched a similar offering in late-2013 called Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) G2 instances.
Finally, the company announced the official launch of Microsoft Azure services in India. Three new Azure regions serve the populous country, Central India in Pune, South India in Chennai and West India in Mumbai, expanding Azure's global footprint to a total of 24 cloud data center locations.