Microsoft has finally made its Azure container service generally available for the public. The service, which was launched almost 7 months ago, is now widely available for general use.
The service was announced back in September and hit the preview mode in February. It is a part of the Azure suite of services which is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure developed and supported by Microsoft for building, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of datacenters.
However, Microsoft’s container service is not just any container. There are a whole bunch of features that make it stand out from competition including the fact that users get to choose their pick from either Mesosphere’s Data Center Operating System (DC/OS) or Docker’s Swarm and Compose.
While Microsoft’s association with Mesosphere is pretty old, Docker’s swarm and compose are the new features being brought it by the company. Here is how the docker website describes them,
Swarm is native clustering for Docker containers. It pools together several Docker Engines into a single, virtual host. Point a Docker client or third party tool (e.g., Compose, Dokku, Shipyard, Jenkins, the Docker client, etc.) at Swarm and it will transparently scale to multiple hosts.
Compose is a way of defining and running multi-container distributed applications with Docker.
The reason behind offering both, when the company could have simply gone with one is pretty straightforward. Apparently, the company didn’t want to be the one telling its customers which service to choose, so it simply offered both and let the consumers decide.
However, the one thing that rankles a bit is the fact that Microsoft seems to have deliberately left out Google’s Kubernete, which is also an open-source project. Speaking on the topic to TechCrunch, Microsoft CTO said that his company was focusing on those open source containers that were in public demand, implying that Google’s container wasn’t as popular as the other too.
Open source has a whole bunch of benefits, however, portability may arguably be the biggest one. As per Microsoft,
Just because an individual container is portable, it doesn’t mean your application will be. Azure Container Service only uses open source components in the orchestration layers to give you portability of full applications—not only individual containers—to migrate seamlessly to and from Azure at will.
However, that is not the only reason behind choosing Azure. The Container Service included with Azure also optimizes the configuration of popular open source tools and technologies specifically for its users, offering an open solution that offers portability for both your containers and your application configuration. Users can also select stuff like the size, the number of hosts, and choice of orchestrator tools.
As of now though users will still have to go to Mesosphere and Docker to get support for their deployments, although hopefully, the company will someday offer direct support for the services through its platform, including for Google’s Kubernote as well.