Microsoft Hires Google's Lead Kubernetes Engineer To Boost Container Orchestration Support In Azure

Microsoft has hired Brendan Burns, a senior staff engineer at Google who has spent the past several years leading development of its Kubernetes open source orchestration technology for Docker containers.

Burns, who created the Kubernetes project along with two other Google engineers, is leaving after an 8-plus year run at the company, he announced in a tweet Sunday. Burns previously worked on Google Cloud Platform and on the vendor's search infrastructure team, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Big changes for me! Tomorrow I start at Microsoft Azure. Continuing to work on Kubernetes and helping with Azure Resource Manager and more.

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At Microsoft, Burns will be leading work on Azure Resource Manager, a service that lets users manage and monitor the virtual server, storage and networking components of an application, a Microsoft spokesman said in an email.

Google didn't respond to a request for comment on Burns' departure.

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Microsoft supports Kubernetes on Azure and it's possible to use the technology to manage Docker containers in the cloud. Microsoft is also one of several vendors contributing code to the Kubernetes open source project.

Yet Microsoft's Azure Container Service, an offering that debuted in April which manages large numbers of containers in the cloud, doesn't currently support Kubernetes. The service does work with Kubernetes competitors Docker Swarm and Mesosphere Data Center Operation System.

In joining Microsoft from Google, Burns goes from a vendor that came late to the public cloud market but is widely hailed as having the best cloud technology, to one widely seen as the number two player after Amazon Web Services.

Microsoft partners expect Burns -- the number one contributor to the Kubernetes repository on GitHub – to focus on building additional support for Kubernetes in Azure.

"Since Kubernetes is an open source project, there's no reason it won't run everywhere," said Richard Campbell, principal at Coquitlam, B.C.-based development firm Campbell Associates and a longtime Microsoft partner. "But I suspect Brendan, being the top contributor, will have a ton of insight on how Azure can run Kubernetes super effectively."

Jason Sauers, founder and director of connected systems at Phidiax, a Denver-based Microsoft partner, sees Burns' hiring as another sign of the software giant's growing focus on supporting Docker containers in Azure.

"Technologies like Docker, and portability across clouds, is one of the major initiatives that the industry will soon widely expect," said Sauers.

"Microsoft's open perspective on cloud technology adoption, and its open community, naturally makes it the front runner in embracing and pushing this momentum. This hire will quicken the pace of industry awareness [about containers]," Sauers added.