Microsoft’s crush on Kubernetes deepened as the computing giant pushed the container orchestrator to the front of the line in terms of preferred options for its hosted Azure Container Service. That infatuation can be seen with the platform’s acronym being changed from ACS to AKS.
In a blog post, Gabe Monroy, project manager lead for containers at Microsoft’s Azure business, unveiled a preview of the AKS platform, its new managed Kubernetes service. It builds on Microsoft’s ACS work, which Monroy said has grown 300 percent over the past six months.
The AKS platform includes an Azure-hosted control plane, automated upgrades, self-healing, scaling, and a simplified user interface.
Monroy said the increased Kubernetes support focuses more efforts around the platform, “which has emerged as the open source standard for container orchestration.”
“Kubernetes’ unique community involvement and its portability makes it an ideal orchestrator to standardize on,” Monroy wrote.
Microsoft is looking to goose use of the AKS platform with an offer too good to pass up. Users will not have to pay for management of their Kubernetes clusters via the AKS platform, but will have to pay for the virtual machines (VMs) they are running on.
Microsoft earlier this year acquired Deis, which was an open source company focused on Kubernetes management. And in July, Microsoft joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which houses the Kubernetes project.
Despite the Kubernetes push, Microsoft will continue to support other container orchestrator platforms. These include Docker Enterprise Edition and Mesosphere’s DC/OS. Though it should also be noted that both of those platforms have recently integrated Kubernetes into their managed products.
Differentiation From AWS
Microsoft’s move further differentiates its cloud products from those being offered by larger rival Amazon Web Services (AWS). While AWS followed Microsoft by joining the CNCF as a platinum member and offers support through various distros for Kubernetes, it continues to favor its own EC2 Container Service for orchestration.
At the time of joining CNCF, Adrian Cockcroft, VP of cloud architecture strategy at AWS, said the move was linked to growing use of CNCF projects running on AWS Cloud. Cockcroft, in an accompanying blog post, included CNCF survey numbers showing 63 percent of respondents said they hosted Kubernetes on Amazon’s EC2 platform, which was an increase from 44 percent the previous year.
“We have plans for more Kubernetes blog posts and code contributions, and think there are opportunities to propose existing and future AWS open source projects to be incubated by CNCF,” Cockcroft said of AWS’ plans with CNCF.
Analysts at the time noted AWS needs to follow its peers in moving closer to Kubernetes development.
“Amazon wants to make sure it has a seat at the table for Kubernetes and CNCF,” said Edwin Yuen, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “I am not sure it’s a wholesale stamp of approval for Kubernetes from Amazon as they still have EC2, but with most of the other cloud providers now part of CNCF, Amazon needs to be part [of CNCF] to have a say.”
Yuen said in the near term it’s likely AWS will look to ease integration of Kubernetes into its platform “and make sure everything goes together seamlessly.”
Container Registry Scaling
Along with the Kubernetes push, Microsoft also previewed the global scaling for its Azure Container Registry (ACR) product. The “geo-replication” ability allows users to manage a single registry that can be replicated across regions.
Images imported into or exported from a container are now routed through the closest registry. This allows for quicker access due to a shorter travel path, but maintains user access to Azure’s global footprint. Azure currently counts support across 36 regions, with plans to add six new regions.