Partners: New Azure Service Proves That Microsoft 'Gets It' On Containers

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the general availability of a new containers tool for its Azure cloud platform that partners say should help accelerate the deployment of container technologies with customers.

With the new Azure Container Instances service, containers can now be metered to the second, and only incur cost up to their storage and compute needs, said Reed Wiedower, CTO of Washington, D.C.-based New Signature.

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"With a container-based approach, we can start to sell a discrete service that includes the cost of acquisition and monetizes it so that the more money a customer makes, the more money a partner makes," Wiedower told CRN. "It's truly transformative."

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Microsoft said that Azure Container Instances does not require management of any virtual machine infrastructure, and said the service starts up within seconds.

By comparison, platform-as-a-service options typically take several minutes to respond, said Brian Blanchard, vice president of cloud solutions at Chicago-based 10th Magnitude.

The new service – which 10th Magnitude has been using as a trial for the past four months – means that users can "just focus on code," and don't have to deal with any of the constraints of PaaS mechanisms, Blanchard said. The tool is a huge help in development cycles for spinning up an instance of an app for a short burst of time, in order to perform actions such as testing, he said.

"It's another tool in the arsenal that gives us even greater flexibility," Blanchard said.

Wiedower said that Azure Container Instances "re-affirms that Microsoft 'gets it' when it comes to containers." And the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, he said, "isn’t content to merely be at parity with other providers."

"With ACI Microsoft has built functionality that any developer can use to achieve real-time usage of containers – further transforming applications into true, utility-like services that are metered and expensed, back to the customer," Wiedower said. "When we talk to customers around their digital transformation efforts, this ability is key because it can help us create positive outcomes through the services themselves."

For example, if New Signature were going to do a $120,000 project for a customer to improve their Dynamics 365 instance, a customer would typically have to pay up front "for a presumed benefit," he said.

The announcement comes as container technology is already seeing fast-growing adoption, as evidenced by the amount of interest in containers that solution providers such as 10th Magnitude are seeing.

"We're seeing container adoption just shoot through the roof," Blanchard said. "Three to four months ago, containers were a part of roughly 1 of 20 or 30 of our conversations. Today it's in like one of five. We're seeing that adoption and interest rapidly spike. It's almost becoming table stakes in the cloud market."