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General Availability of Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service Released

Now available in 10 Azure regions, yesterday Microsoft announced the general availability of its Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

According to Brendan Burns, a distinguished engineer for Microsoft Azure and a former lead Kubernetes engineer at Google Inc., Microsoft expects to expand to "10 more regions in the coming months," with five of the current 10 being new for the AKS service. Those new areas include "Australia East, UK South, West US, West US 2, and North Europe," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Google was the first to foster the open source Kubernetes container orchestration solution for clusters and Microsoft embraced it for use on its Azure datacenter infrastructure. There have been nearly 70 Microsoft employees who have contributed to Kubernetes, Burns indicated.

Developers might use the OS virtualization approach of containers to avoid conflicts when spinning up applications. However, because the Kubernetes management system isn't typically thought to be easy to use, Microsoft has poured its resources into taking away some of those headaches. That result has been AKS, which provides support for automatic upgrades and the ability to scale operations, plus some self-healing capabilities.

AKS Pricing
The Kubernetes management aspect of the new service is free to use, even with the general availability release. However, because of that aspect, Microsoft doesn't offer a service-level agreement, which is an assurance of service uptime.

Microsoft does charge, though, for the use of Azure virtual machines with AKS, whether they're Linux or Windows. In addition, there are costs associated with the use of static or dynamic IP addresses with the service. Those costs can vary, according to the Azure management system used (classic or Azure Resource Manager). Pricing details are described at Microsoft's AKS pricing page and IP addresses pricing page, and there's a pricing calculator. The complex IP address use cases involved with the service are outlined in a Microsoft Azure document.

Open Source Tooling Support
Microsoft has contributed to the various open source tools used with Kubernetes. It is the lead developer for Helm, a package manager for Kubernetes. Microsoft last year acquired Deis, a company that made the Helm Chart application package manager product.

Microsoft also "built and released Draft and Brigade to make Kubernetes more approachable for novice users," Burns indicated. Microsoft creates extensions for integrated development environments (IDEs), such as its own Visual Studio, with its Visual Studio Code Kubernetes Tools, which was announced last week as a preview. There's also support for Jenkins, an open source automation server used for software development and testing scenarios.

Last month, Microsoft announced that Azure DevOps Projects supports deploying AKS from the Azure Portal. Microsoft also launched a "private preview" of Azure Dev Spaces for debugging multiple containers in Kubernetes, which works with Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code or the Azure command line. Azure Monitor also supports AKS at the preview stage, showing log information and container health information.

Microsoft also has some related efforts, such as its Azure Container Instances service. Azure Container Instances is a serverless runtime for spinning up containers on Azure datacenters that was publicly released in April. Azure Container Instances isn't considered to be a complete orchestration service like AKS, though.

Microsoft has been putting its efforts behind the open source Virtual Kubelet project, which extends the "Kubernetes API into serverless container platforms," including Azure Container Instances, as well as Fargate and Hyper.sh.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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