Microsoft Launches Azure Container Service

Microsoft announces the general availability of its cloud-based container orchestration service and lends its backing to another open-source project, DC/OS.

Microsoft Azure Container Service

Microsoft's cloud-based application container orchestration platform, Azure Container Service, is generally available, starting today, the Redmond, Wash., software giant announced.

First unveiled during September's AzureCon virtual event, Azure Container Service brings the Apache Mesos cluster management technology to Docker deployments on Azure. "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 at the time.

Now, after a months-long preview period, enterprises can incorporate the service into their DevOps and production cloud application environments with the backing of Microsoft's support and quality assurance.

"With Docker image support and our commitment to open-source software in the orchestration layer, your application is fully portable across any cloud and on-premises," Ross Gardler, a Microsoft Azure senior program manager, said in an April 19 announcement. "Unlike other container services, the Azure Container Service is built on 100 percent open-source software to maximize portability of workloads and offers a choice among popular orchestration engines: DC/OS or Docker Swarm."

DC/OS is a new project, also announced today, by Microsoft and Mesosphere, the startup behind the first data center operating system based on open-source software.

"DC/OS is a software platform that's 100 percent open source, comprised of more than 30 component technologies, including Apache Mesos and Marathon," wrote Mesosphere Senior Research Analyst Derrick Harris, in a blog post. "Some of the technologies were always open source, including Mesos, while others were previously proprietary code developed by Mesosphere, such as the GUI and our Minuteman load balancer."

Inspired by Mesosphere's commercially supported Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) product, DC/OS takes an "app-store-like approach" to installing distributed systems, added Harris. Other features include GUI-based management and intelligent workload scheduling capabilities.

Apart from Microsoft, the project has gathered the support of more than 60 partners, including several other IT heavyweights. Other DC/OS backers include Autodesk, Cisco, EMC, Equinix, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Verizon.

According to Gardler, DC/OS on Azure Container Service will provide customers with robust, uptime-enhancing high-availability features. Additionally, it supports rolling upgrades, health checks and load balancing, among several other features aimed at helping organizations better orchestrate their applications.

Alternately, customers can use Swarm, Docker's native clustering technology. Docker Swarm on DC/OS on Azure Container Service offers full command-line access to a cluster as well as a wealth of third-party tools support, courtesy of the widely adopted Docker Remote API, said Gardler.

Although it's been three short years since the Docker arrived on the scene, containers are already making their mark on the enterprise. Last month, in a survey of more than 1,800 technology professionals, Web application and server specialist NGINX found that two-thirds of organizations are using containers in production (20 percent), for development purposes (17 percent), or are at least investigating their potential use in their IT environments (29 percent).

Once containers gain a foothold in the data center, some organizations are quick to containerize their critical business applications. Among those using containers in production, a third said they run more than 80 percent of their workloads on containers, the study found.

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...