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Microsoft announces its new Azure Container Service

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September 30, 2015

Emphasizing on its existing support for applications on its Azure cloud, Microsoft announces its new Azure Container Service, an innovative environment for running cloudy workloads based on Docker and Apache Mesos.

"After talking to many enterprise customers who have turned to Mesos in an effort to solve various issues with container-based applications, it was evident that Mesos should be our first supported management system," Jazon Zander said.

Microsoft's latest offering draws on a number of open source projects, including Docker, Mesos, and components of DCOS (Data Center Operating System).

We first heard some noise about Microsoft's initial partnership with Mesosphere at the software giant's Build developer conference in April, where Azure CTO Mark Russinovich demoed launching 2,000 Docker containers on Azure using MS' DCOS tools.

The new offering is a managed Azure service backed by Microsoft's operations and support teams that pulls together Docker, Mesos and Mesosphere-built tools including the Marathon initialization and launch system, the Mesos-DNS service discovery system, and the Chronos scheduler.

But Docker needn't get jealous, however. Zander said the Azure Container Service will also support deploying and orchestrating various containers using Docker Swarm, as Russinovich demoed at this year's DockerCon in San Francisco.

With this new service, Microsoft is running slightly behind its cloud archrival, Amazon Web Services, which announced support for DCOS in June of this year.

Zander said Microsoft will launch a preview of the new offering by the end of the calendar year. In the mean time, the software behemoth has made available an Azure Quickstart template that approximates what Azure Container Service will have to offer when it eventually launches.

"The first goal of the Azure Container Service is to simplify the creation and configuration of a cluster," Microsoft's Ross Gardler explained in a tutorial blog post.

"The default configuration of this cluster includes Docker and Docker Swarm for code portability and Marathon, Chronos and Apache Mesos to ensure that these applications can be scaled to thousands, even tens of thousands of containers," he added.

However, it's not exactly easy to set up, at least not for now. "At the present time, this configuration requires thousands of lines of code, not to mention a deep understanding of the technologies involved," Gardler added.

In the future, he said, Microsoft plans to make available an Azure Container Service Resource Provider for Azure Resource Manager that will abstract away much of the tedious grunt work.

The goal is to also integrate the Container Service with another new service called Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS), which will allow you to spin up and manage a set of multiple virtual machines with a single API call.

And in case you are wondering, this is about Linux containers for now, but Microsoft also plans to fully integrate the Azure Container Service with Windows Server containers when they're ready to roll. Nevertheless, the intent here is to work nicely with Linux, make no mistake about it.

The idea here is that you'll eventually be able to manage various containers on whichever operating system you choose.

But you don't have to wait for the Azure Container Service to go live to use them in Microsoft's cloud.

Microsoft has been going a bit nuts since it first announced its partnership with Docker in October of last year, and it already offers a number of various tools for working with Docker containers, including integrated support in Visual Studio.

Source: Microsoft.

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