Microsoft Azure has released a new container service, which it describes as the very first of its kind.
Azure Container Instances, according to Microsoft, will be able to deliver a single container in seconds, and is billed by the second. As such, the Azure team describes it as the ‘fastest and easiest way to run a container in the cloud.’
Microsoft says ACI is highly versatile, meaning users can select memory separately from vCPUs. There are also billing tags so users can follow their usage down to the individual container.
Microsoft states there is no need to manage VMs or any need to learn higher-level cluster orchestration. However, for those that do want to use orchestration, Azure has released an open source connector called ACI Connector for Kubernetes.
This means that while there will still be no need to manage VM infrastructure, there will be on-demand and almost immediate container compute, orchestrated by Kubernetes. This, Microsoft claims, will provide the best of both worlds.
Corey Sanders, director of compute at Azure, suggests in the release that ACI be used for specific types of workloads. ‘Azure Container Instances can be used for fast bursting and scaling whereas VMs can be used for the more predictable scaling.’
ACI is currently only supporting Linux containers but will soon also support Windows containers.
In addition to the ACI announcement, Microsoft has revealed that it is joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) as a Platinum Member. This follows on from its decision to join the Linux Foundation last year.
The CNCF hosts a number of open source tools related to the world of container applications. Other Platinum members include Google, IBM and Cisco.
Containers are a hot topic in the world of cloud computing, and Microsoft is not the first company to venture in this direction. Amazon Web Service has produced the EC2 Container Service, and Google has its Container Engine. The difference between these services and ACI, Microsoft argues, is the level of simplicity.