Data Centers

Microsoft launches Azure Container Instances to easily bring Linux containers to the cloud

Microsoft claims that its new service is the 'fastest and easiest way to run a container in the cloud,' delivering containers without additional VM infrastructure management required.

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Image: Microsoft

On Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled Azure Container Instances (ACI), a quick and easy way to deploy Linux containers in the cloud without much management and oversight. In a blog post, Corey Sanders, the director of compute for Microsoft Azure, said that the ACIs were the "fastest and easiest way to run a container in the cloud."

It only takes a few seconds to deploy an ACI, the post said, and each container deployed is then billed by the second, using billing tags. Admins can choose the number of vCPUs, the amount of memory, and more, to make sure the container will fit the application easily, the post said.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) is offered for each instance, and no VM management tier or cluster orchestration tools are needed to get started. "It is simply your code, in a container, running in the cloud," the post said.

SEE: Microsoft Azure: The smart person's guide

There are multiple deployment options for ACIs, starting with a template or the Azure command line interface (CLI), the post said. However, users can also deploy from a Docker Hub, or other public repository, as well as from a private repository. Microsoft uses virtualization to make sure each container remains isolated from containers deployed by other organizations.

Currently, container instances are only available for Linux containers, the post said. But Windows container support will be coming sometime in the coming weeks.

ACIs are not container orchestrators, the post said. Instead, they are intended to complement orchestrators as an additional "building block" for an organization's container strategy.

As part of the announcement, Microsoft also launched the ACI Connector for Kubernetes, an open source connector allowing users to deploy ACIs from Kubernetes, the post said. So, users will be able to get "on-demand and nearly instantaneous container compute" brought about by Kubernetes, specifically leveraging the portable Kubernetes API. Using this connector, organizations can deploy VMs alongside ACIs in the same cluster, allowing for instant bursting as well as long-term scalability.

This isn't Microsoft's first time working with containers. The firm also offers the Azure Container Service (ACS), a "container hosting environment optimized for Azure," according to ts website. ACS is a free services (organizations pay for VMs) that integrates with Docker, Apache Mesos, and DCOS.

As microservices and containers continue to gain traction in the enterprise, Microsoft is working to keep Azure relevant to the emerging trends and technologies associated with them. If successful, Microsoft could better position Azure as a modern platform for the next generation of enterprise apps.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft unveiled a new method for deploying containers on its cloud platform called Azure Container Instances (ACI) that aims to speed and streamline the deployment process.
  2. ACIs are customizable by the amount of memory they have and their number of vCPUs, and they are billed by the second.
  3. A new ACI Connector for Kubernetes will also allow users to deploy ACIs through the Kubernetes cluster manager.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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