Microsoft Announces Azure Service Fabric, A New Framework For Building Highly Scalable Cloud Services

Microsoft today announced Azure Service Fabric, a new Azure service that aims to make it easier for developers at startups and ISVs to create highly scalable cloud applications.

The idea is to give developers the tools necessary to build cloud apps without ever having to worry about scaling and having to rearchitect their infrastructure to keep up with growth.

To do so, Service Fabric combines microservices with the company’s expertise in orchestrating and automating them across distributed systems. Service Fabric will also offer Visual Studio and command-line tooling and application lifecycle management support.

Azure Service Fabric

As Microsoft’s general manager for cloud platform marketing Mike Schutz tells me, Service Fabric is essentially a next-gen Platform-as-a-Service technology that makes use of Microsoft’s experience with building hyper-scale technology for its own services like AzureDB, DocumentDB and Cortana. Indeed, Microsoft says Service Fabric is exactly the same technology it uses in-house to build and run these services.

Service Fabric sits between the different microservices that make up a modern application and the cloud the application is hosted on. Microsoft itself describes the new service it as “a developer framework that intrinsically understands the available infrastructure resources and needs of applications, enabling automatically updating, self-healing behavior that is essential to delivering highly available and durable services at hyper-scale.”

Even though many of us probably equate microservices with Docker containers, this first version of Service Fabric will focus on Microsoft’s own technologies and Java applications. Microsoft plans to launch support for Docker and its own Windows Server Containers with the next version of Windows Server and it will then also support on-premise support for Service Fabric running on Windows Server. Linux support is also on the roadmap and Microsoft plans to give developers who currently use its other cloud services guidance for moving to Service Fabric if they want to do so.

Maybe even more interestingly (though this fits in well with Microsoft’s focus on hybrid cloud deployments) is Microsoft’s commitment to support Service Fabric for private clouds and, in the long run, hosted clouds, too.

In a way, Service Fabric is the counterpoint to the recently launched Azure App Service. While App Service tries to abstract away many of the complexities of running and deploying scalable applications in the cloud, Service Fabric is meant for developers who need low-level control.

Microsoft is still somewhat vague about some of the details and what exactly the developer experience with Service Fabric will look like . While the company is announcing the service today, it isn’t actually releasing any bits yet and there is no way for developers to test drive the service at this point. Instead, Microsoft plans to release a developer preview and SDK of this new service at its BUILD conference next week, where it will also demo Service Fabric in more detail. BUILD kicks off next Wednesday and we will likely learn about more about Service Fabric then.