Microsoft has announced general availability of the Azure Container Service, enabling customers to run workloads inside containers on the firm's public cloud platform, including support for Docker images with Docker Swarm or the alternative DC/OS orchestration platform.
The Azure Container Service was announced at Microsoft's AzureCon event last year, and has since been through a private preview and public preview for customer evaluation. The general availability of the service means that containers are now ready for prime time in the Azure cloud, Microsoft said.
The service is described as the simplest, most open and flexible way for developers to run container applications in the cloud, and offers a choice of orchestration engines between the well-known Docker Swarm and an alternative, DC/OS.
DC/OS is an entirely open source version of the commercial Mesosphere 'data centre operating system' based on tools such as Apache Mesos and Marathon. It offers container orchestration, push-button deployment, built-in high-availability and fault-tolerance for all types of workloads, and GUI-based monitoring and management.
Microsoft is in fact one of the backers of the DC/OS project, along with Mesosphere and a broad group of over 50 technology companies, including Accenture, Cisco, Verizon and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
"With Azure Container Service, users get a reference implementation of DC/OS that can be deployed at scale in a matter of minutes by providing a very small set of parameters such as the size and location of the cluster," said John Gossman, an architect in Microsoft's Azure team.
"We believe Azure Container Service is the easiest way to get started with DC/OS for learning and experimentation or for production workloads."
However, the Docker Swarm version of Azure Container Service uses the Docker stack, and therefore any Docker-compliant tooling can also be used to manage applications on Azure. This provides a 'Docker native' solution with the same technology as Docker's Universal Control Plane, Microsoft said.
"As organisations adopt containers and look to scale them in production, they discover that deploying and operating containerised application workloads is a non-trivial exercise," said Ross Gardler, Microsoft's senior programme manager for Azure.
"The complexity of tracking and managing high-density containers at scale grows at an exponential rate, making traditional, hands-on management approaches ineffective."
Azure Container Service addresses these challenges by providing simplified configurations of proven open source container orchestration technology, optimised to run in the cloud, Microsoft said.
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