Microsoft has opened up its Azure Container Service as a public preview, enabling users of the cloud platform to evaluate deployment and operation of containerised applications on Azure. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) instances are also now available on Azure, as Microsoft promised last year.
The Azure Container Service was announced at the AzureCon event in 2015, and was made available as a private preview to selected Microsoft customers from December last year. The company is now opening it up for a broader range of users for testing.
Azure Container Service is Microsoft's move to bring the capabilities of Docker to the Azure cloud platform. It is based on work that the firm has been doing with the Docker and Mesosphere open source projects to enable customers to provision clusters of virtual machines onto which containerised applications can be deployed, orchestrated and managed.
The public preview allows customers to choose from Apache Mesos with Mesosphere's Marathon or Docker Swarm for container orchestration. Microsoft claimed that this approach is unique among cloud providers, combining the flexibility to choose among open source technologies with the power, governance and convenience offered by the Azure platform.
As part of Microsoft's new-found enthusiasm for open source, the firm has been careful to use only open source components in the application and orchestration layers, a move ensuring that customers can seamlessly migrate workloads to and from Azure as required.
Continuing the open source theme, customers can also now choose to deploy RHEL virtual machine instances from the Azure Marketplace.
This is a move that was foreshadowed last year, when Red Hat and Microsoft announced a partnership under which Red Hat products and services would be natively available on the Azure public cloud, including its Linux platform and the OpenShift platform-as-a-service for application development and deployment.
"Using these instances, customers of Red Hat and Microsoft will now be able to rapidly and seamlessly deploy instances for on-demand workloads, dev-test and cloud bursting, all with the simplicity, scalability, agility and unique per-minute billing flexibility of Azure," said Corey Sanders, director of programme management for Azure, on Microsoft's Azure Blog.
Microsoft said that RHEL 6.7 and 7.2 images are now live in all Azure regions, except for China and the US government, and can be deployed directly from the Azure Marketplace. The firm also offers fully integrated support with co-located Red Hat and Microsoft engineers sitting side-by-side to help with any problems.
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