Microsoft Azure Container Service Takes a Kubernetes-Focused Turn

Although the name's the same, the mission is somewhat different. Microsoft Azure Container, or AKS as the company now calls it, is Microsoft's new managed Kubernetes service.


Azure Container Service, Microsoft's cloud-based container orchestration service, is getting some new updates and a bit of a name change to reflect its new Kubernetes-centric approach to cloud-native applications.

Also dubbed AKS by Microsoft, but still retaining the Azure Container Service branding, the offering is being billed as a managed Kubernetes service, reflecting the open-source technology's front runner status among its container orchestration rivals. Microsoft officially added Kubernetes support to Azure Container Service in February.

According to Portworx's 2017 Annual Container Adoption Survey from April, Kubernetes is the leading orchestration technology among businesses that have jumped on the application container bandwagon.

Of the 491 IT professionals polled for the study 43 percent said they used Kubernetes while nearly a third (32 percent) named it their primary orchestration tool. Among large enterprises with more than 5,000 employees, Kubernetes is slightly more popular in terms of both overall and primary usage  at 48 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Even Docker, with its own container orchestration system called Swarm, is embracing Kubernetes.

During the DockerCon event in Denmark Oct. 16-19, the company announced it is adding support for Kubernetes to its namesake container platform. The decision boils down to giving Docker customers a choice and removing potential sources of conflict and confusion, CEO Steve Singh told eWEEK's Sean Michael Kerner in recent a video interview.

AKS is now available for beta testing on Microsoft's Cloud. The original Azure Container Service was made generally available in April 2016 and features new management capabilities that help ease the deployment of containerized applications.

"Now with the preview of AKS, we are making it even easier to manage and operate your Kubernetes environments, all without sacrificing portability. This new service features an Azure-hosted control plane, automated upgrades, self-healing, easy scaling, and a simple user experience for both developers and cluster operators," said Gabriel Monroy, principal program manager of containers at Microsoft Azure in an Oct. 24 announcement. "With AKS, customers get the benefit of open source Kubernetes without complexity and operational overhead."

If his name sounds familiar, it's because he formerly served as the CTO of Deis, the San Francisco-based software startup that Microsoft acquired in April for an undisclosed amount. Deis was known for a number of open-source projects, including the Helm package manager for Kubernetes and Steward, a Kubernetes-native service broker.

Monroy isn't the only notable member of the Kubernetes community that Microsoft has on its payroll. Kubernetes co-creator Brendan Burns is now a distinguished engineer at the software giant and oversees Azure's container efforts, Monroy note.

For customers that are already running other orchestration systems on Azure Container Service, namely DC/OS and Docker Swarm, Microsoft pledged that it will continue to support the service's current deployment engine. The company is also working with Docker (Swarm) and Mesosphere (DC/OS) on improved Azure compatibility via their respective Azure Marketplace solutions.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...