Microsoft's new Kubernetes tool makes it easier to manage serverless containers on Azure

At KubeCon in Austin, Microsoft announced the launch of its Virtual Kubelet connector for Azure, streamlining the container management process.

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On Wednesday, at the KubeCon event in Austin, Microsoft unveiled three new products and services that will expand the capabilities of developers working with Kubernetes on the Azure cloud platform.

Usage of the Kubernetes container management platform on Azure is up 700% year-to-date, according to a Microsoft blog post. The firm has been making numerous investments in the platform, including introducing serverless containers and launching its managed Azure Container Service (AKS).

Now, Microsoft is furthering its container efforts with more support for serverless containers on Azure, offering the ability to connect Kubernetes apps to Azure Services, and providing new DevOps tools for container development.

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The actual news announced at KubeCon was the unveiling of the Virtual Kubelet, a Kubernetes connector with a pluggable architecture that can target ACI or an equivalent runtime, the post said. Microsoft described ACI as "a serverless container runtime that provides per-second billing and no virtual machine management." The Virtual Kubelet utilizes existing Kubernetes primitives, the post said.

After Microsoft released its Azure Container Instances (ACI) Connector for Kubernetes in July, it noticed that other companies begin to customize and adapt the connector to fit their company's specific needs, the post noted. One of those companies was, which is now the first outside contributor to the open source project. "Hyper's vision from the start has been to make deploying and using containers as simple and easy as possible," COO James Kulina said in the post. "Now with the Virtual-[Kubelet] project, platforms that support secure container technology, such as our cloud through its use of Kata Containers, will enable seamless multi-cloud container deployment between Kubernetes-based 'serverless container' platforms."

Also at KubeCon, Microsoft open sourced its Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA), which was built with the help of the Open Service Broker API, the post said. Essentially, the OSBA makes it easier for serverless apps to connect to the backend of certain Microsoft Azure services, like Azure CosmosDB and Azure Database for PostgreSQL.

Microsoft also dedicated some space in its post to touch on Kashti, its dashboard and visualization tool for Brigade pipelines that was initially announced at the Open Source Summit. Brigade scripts multiple tasks and executes them inside of a container. Kashti improves the usefulness of Brigade with a dashboard UI, making it easier for developers to view and manage specific projects right in their browser.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft's new Virtual Kubelet is a Kubernetes connector that allows developers to target the ACI serverless container runtime (or equivalent).
  2. Microsoft also open sourced its Open Service Broker for Azure, which will help developers connect their Kubernetes applications to existing Azure services.
  3. Kashti is another relatively new Microsoft product that adds a dashboard UI to its visualization tool Brigade, making projects easier to manage in a browser.

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Image: iStockphoto/shansekala