Microsoft Expands Azure Container Service Preview

Microsoft opens the Azure Container Service floodgates, allowing more users to try its cloud-based container management offering.

Microsoft Azure

Azure Container Service, the Docker-friendly container management offering from Microsoft and data center orchestration specialist Mesosphere, is now available to all comers.

Announced last fall and previously offered as a limited beta to select customers, Azure Container Service is Microsoft's answer to the management challenges posed by Docker's growing popularity on its own cloud. "Docker tooling has made it extremely easy to package and deploy Docker. As customers started to deploy them into production, management and production at scale is something that they were looking for," said Mike Schutz, general manager of Microsoft Cloud Platform, during an eWEEK interview in September.

Now, everyone can take it for a spin, said Corey Sanders, director of Azure Program Management in a Feb. 17 announcement.

"The Azure Container Service makes it easy to create and manage clusters of Azure Virtual Machines pre-configured with key open source components," stated Sanders. "This work couples Azure's hyper-scale and enterprise-grade cloud with your choice of proven container technologies, Mesos + Mesosphere's Marathon or Docker Swarm, to deliver the foundation needed for the orchestration service any team or company building container apps will want."

Swarm is the native clustering technology used in Docker's open-source application container platform. Microsoft added Swarm support to its Azure cloud computing platform nearly a year ago, coinciding with the beta releases of the Docker Compose, Machine and Swarm orchestration tools.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Lands on Azure

Also this week, as part of a wide-ranging cloud partnership between Red Hat and Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash., tech titan announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is available in the Azure Gallery Marketplace. Demand has been high, with "strong interest and momentum" from customers seeking to run Red Hat's commercial Linux distribution on Microsoft's cloud, said Sanders.

"Using these instances, customers of Red Hat and Microsoft will now be able to rapidly and seamlessly deploy instances for on-demand workloads, dev-test, and cloud bursting—all with the simplicity, scalability, agility and unique per-minute billing flexibility of Azure," he said. "The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7 and 7.2 images are now live in all regions, except China and US Government, and can be deployed directly from the Azure Marketplace."

Support services are provided by co-located engineers working for Red Hat and Microsoft. The companies also "worked together to ensure Red Hat subscriptions purchased through the Azure Marketplace provide unique, integrated subscription support and value through direct access to the Red Hat customer portal. This provides you the full breadth of Red Hat enterprise value delivered directly as part of the Azure on-demand experience," he added.

Since declaring its love for Linux early last year, Microsoft has beefed up its open-source support.

Microsoft recently "integrated dm-crypt as part of Azure Disk Encryption, launched the MCSA Linux on Azure certification and announced experimental Web App support for PHP 7 at php[world]," reminded Sanders. "We have also released many solutions with open source technology partners such as Pivotal, Cloudera, MariaDB, Hortonworks and Datastax."

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...