Azure Container Instances simplify serverless Linux and Windows containers in the cloud

Microsoft also lowered the price for the service and updated its Virtual Kubelet program.

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Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Microsoft Azure Container Instances, a serverless method for running Linux and Windows containers, is now generally available.
  • Microsoft announced lower prices for Azure Container Instances, making it cheaper to deploy individual containers.

On Wednesday, Microsoft brought its Azure Container Instances (ACI) into general availability, offering a simple serverless option for running Linux and Windows containers in the cloud.

As noted in a Wednesday blog post, the service is on-demand and requires no VM management. It also offers automatic, elastic scaling for deployments.

ACI was first launched in preview in July 2017. As noted in the initial blog post, each Azure Container Instance is a single container that can be spun up in seconds. It's also billed by the second.

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When it comes to container orchestrators, the ACIs are meant to work with them, not replaced them, the post said. At the same time Microsoft initially announced the preview of ACI, it also launched the open source ACI Connector for Kubernetes.

One of the value props for ACIs is their ability to protect containers at the hypervisor level. This "provides a strong security boundary for multi-tenant scenarios. It can sometimes be a challenge to secure multi-tenant workloads running inside containers on the same virtual machine," the post said.

Some example use cases, noted in the post, include batch processing, continuous integration, event-driven computing, and bust workloads.

Initial ACI creation is now free (it used to cost $0.0025 per instance created), and Microsoft has lowered the operating prices with general availability. As such, vCPU per second is now $0.000012, down from $0.0000125; and memory (GB) per second has dropped to $0.000004 from $0.0000125.

Additionally, Microsoft announced updates to its Virtual Kubelet project, including an improved Azure portal, the inclusion of execute commands directly in containers, and a new Azure Monitor solution to monitor CPU and memory utilization of Linux containers. The project is also getting container log streaming and container restart policies, new Linux container volume types, six availability regions, and an uptime SLA of 99.9%.

Formal documentation, along with step-by-step tutorials can be found here.

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