Microsoft ups the Kubernetes ante

Microsoft is the metaphorical leopard that has changed its spots. Its embracing of the Kubernetes initiative shows that

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and he who had a penchant for screaming during keynotes, once stated that “Linux is a cancer.”

Anyone who was around back when Ballmer made that declaration would be pretty surprised by just how far Microsoft has come in its support and acceptance of open source projects as a valid part of the technology industry. From open sourcing many of its own technologies (.NET and Windows Live Writer being but two examples) to jumping in to be a part of newer open source initiatives, Microsoft is an important player in the open source world.

A good example of this comes to us via this week’s KubeCon, the conference dedicated to all things Kubernetes. Kubernetes, for those out of the loop, is an open source initiative that has its genesis in Google’s Borg, the system on which Google’s own solutions run. Kubernetes is all about giving organizations and open source control and management solution to run their containerized applications. While there is much semantic debate about whether Kubernetes is additive to or something of a replacement for other cloud management platforms such as Docker and OpenStack, suffice it to say that Kubernetes (or K8S for the cool kids) has made a pretty significant dent in a small space of time.

This dent has not gone unnoticed by Redmond, the location of Microsoft’s global headquarters and the technology powerhouse has been quick to jump on board with K8S. Indeed, roughly a month after K8S became publicly available, Microsoft announced support for it on its Azure cloud computing infrastructure. The 1.4 version of Kubernetes offered support for native Azure networking, load-balancer and Azure disk integration.

Today, Microsoft is taking this support even further and announcing the preview release of Kubernetes on Azure Container Service. This deeper and native support of Kubernetes will provide users another open source choice for their container orchestration engine on Azure. Arguably adding to the tyranny of choice, this offering means that users can chose from a variety of orchestrators on Azure; DC/OS, Docker Swarm and now Kubernetes.

Alongside KubeCon, Microsoft is making a number of Kubernetes-related announcements:

  • DC/OS Upgrade to 1.8.4: Microsoft has upgraded ACS support for DC/OS to version 1.8.4. This new version includes new virtual networking capabilities along with job-scheduling and Marathon-based container orchestration baked into the DC/OS UI. Additionally, GitLab, Artifactory, Confluent Platform, DataStax Enterprise and Microsoft’s own Operations Management Suite are now available for 1-click installation from the DC/OS Universe app store.
  • Open Source Azure Container Service Engine: Microsoft is releasing the source code for the ACS Engine that is used to create Azure Container Service deployments in Azure. This new open source project on GitHub will means that Microsoft is sharing with the community how they deploy DC/OS, Swarm, and Kubernetes.

Alongside these hosting options, Microsoft is thinking about the development and management aspects of life for organizations running K8S and delivering some relevant updates including:

  • Azure Container Registry: Available in preview on Nov. 14, the Azure Container Registry is a private repository for hosting container images for use on Azure. Using the Azure Container Registry, users can store Docker formatted images for all types of container deployments. Additionally, the Azure Container Registry integrates well with the orchestrator offered by the Azure Container Service. When customers use the Azure Container Registry, they will find it compatible with the open source Docker Registry so you can use the same tools on ACR.
  • VS, VSTS and VS Code integration and deployment to Azure Container Service: Also on Nov. 14, Microsoft will release a new experience to enable users to easily set up continuous integration and deployment of multi-container Linux applications using Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services and the open source Visual Studio Code.


Two things of note here: Frstly, Kubernetes is a very important initiative that will continue to build a groundswell of both industry interest and customers adoption. Secondly, and more generally, this is yet another example of how well Microsoft is embracing new business and technology models in order to remain relevant and build a compelling cloud story.


Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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