Microsoft today unveiled a new service dubbed Azure Container Instances that speeds the creation and deployment of containers on the company’s cloud.
“The very first service of its kind in the cloud, Azure Container Instances (ACI), is a new Azure service delivering containers with great simplicity and speed and without any Virtual Machine infrastructure to manage,” wrote Corey Sanders, director of Compute at Microsoft Azure, in a July 26 announcement. “ACIs are the fastest and easiest way to run a container in the cloud.”
Containers are a hit among enterprise DevOps teams, at least among those that value agile IT and rapid application development cycles. Now Microsoft is hoping to make it even easier for Azure customers to jump on the container bandwagon by dispensing with many of the configuration and management tasks associated with setting up an application container environment.
Spinning up a container with Azure Container Instances can be accomplished with a straightforward command containing a handful of parameters. Example commands are available in this blog post authored by Sanders.
Given how relatively easy it can be to deploy containers with the service, quickly racking up cloud fees could become a problem. Addressing cost concerns, Sanders noted that users have full control over the resources consumed by the containers (memory and virtual CPUs), and once started, containers are billed by the second.
“Your containers won’t be billed for a second longer than is required and won’t use a GB [gigabyte] more than is needed,” Sanders assured. “With ACI, containers are a first-class object of the Azure platform, offering Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) on the instance and billing tags to track usage at the individual container level.”
Sanders also cautioned that the new service is not intended to serve as a replacement for container orchestrators, but rather act as a building block for orchestrators and other container services. In keeping with that vision, Microsoft today released the ACI Connector for Kubernetes, the popular container management and orchestration platform.
As its name suggests, users of the new open-source connector can deploy containers to Azure Container Instances from Kubernetes clusters. Benefits include on-demand container compute resource availability, minus the associated virtual machine infrastructure management, according to Sanders.
Azure Container Instances, currently in public preview, only supports Linux containers at the moment. Over the next couple of weeks, the company plans to roll out support for Windows containers.
In another show of support for the open-source software community, Microsoft announced today that it had joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) as a Platinum member. Part of the Linux Foundation, which Microsoft joined last year, the group hosts and governs a variety of projects, including Prometheus, OpenTracing and Kubernetes.
Microsoft Azure architect John Gossman stated that open source “allows vendors, customers, researchers and others to collaborate and share knowledge about problems and solutions, like no other form of development,” in a separate announcement today. “And I strongly believe the power of open source derives from strong, diverse communities and that we have an obligation to support these communities by participating as code contributors and in the associated foundations and committees.”