Microsoft said it would bulk up Azure's container capabilities by releasing native support on its cloud for the popular Kubernetes container orchestration engine.
For Microsoft partners, the addition of the Google-developed open source cluster orchestrator to Microsoft's Azure Container Service is an integration that gives them more options when building distributed applications for their customers.
The Kubernetes release comes more than six months after Microsoft hired Brendon Burns, formerly a senior Google engineer who spent years leading Kubernetes development, to take charge of the Azure Container Services team.
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In announcing the update on Microsoft's blog on Tuesday, Saurya Das, program manager for Azure Linux, put the managed Kubernetes offering in the context of advances in cloud computing that increasingly shift focus to applications and away from underlying infrastructure.
"Containers, one of the most topical areas in cloud computing, are the next evolutionary step in virtualization," Das said. "Companies of every size and from all industries are embracing containers to deliver highly available applications with greater agility in the development, test and deployment cycle."
Azure Container Service now incorporates the three major container orchestrators – Docker Swarm is also available, as is Mesos-based DC/OS, from Mesosphere.
The Kubernetes service had been previewed to select customers for several months, during which time Microsoft collected feedback that went into improving the product for general release, Das wrote.
On Wednesday, Microsoft will also release a preview of Kubernetes for Windows Server Containers, a Docker container platform for developing native Windows applications.
For Microsoft partners, the addition of Kubernetes means more architectural choices, and fewer tradeoffs, when using Docker to deploy containerized applications at scale in the cloud, said Sarosh Hussain, practice lead at Credera, a Microsoft partner based in Dallas, Tex.
For that reason, making Kubernetes natively available in Azure, along with the other cluster management frameworks, is a great move on the part of Microsoft, he said.