Kubernetes on Microsoft’s Azure Container Service is now generally available

Kubernetes, the Google-incubated open source container orchestration system, is quickly becoming the de facto standard for managing large container deployments. Microsoft launched a preview of support for Kubernetes in its Azure Container Service last year; today it is taking this service out of beta and making it generally available.

This means the service is now backed by an SLA, and users will be able to get support contracts from Microsoft. Maybe more importantly, though, Microsoft also added two pivotal new features with this update: the ability to easily scale Kubernetes clusters up and down and support for high-availability setups with multiple masters.

In the preview, as Microsoft partner architect (and co-founder of the Kubernetes project) Brendan Burns told me, users were only able to set up a cluster and test it, but if they wanted to make it larger or smaller, they’d have to tear it down. You’d think easy scaling is one of the main reasons for using a container orchestration service, but Burns argued that this was still a preview and that the company didn’t expect users to run it in production (though some did).

The team also did a lot of work on Kubernetes itself to add support for Windows Server Containers, which enable Windows users to package their containers, which can then run on Windows Server 2016. With this update, Kubernetes on the Azure Container Service now supports Windows Server Containers in preview. Burns said that the company has seen a lot of interest in this feature. “I think that’s a reflection of the fact that these containerize workflows improve developer productivity whether they are new applications or existing applications you’re packaging for Windows Server Containers.”

Burns also noted that the team improved command-line support for using Kubernetes on the Azure Container Service. In addition, the team updated its support for Mesosphere’s DC/OS to the latest version.

Burns is talking at Containerworld today and he gave me a brief preview of his talk. What it really comes down to is that containers have moved into the mainstream. “There has been this notion of container infrastructure that it was something to pay attention to — but now it’s just infrastructure,” he told me. The reason for the quick ascent of containers, he thinks, is that it solves a lot of pain — and it does so quickly. “No matter what you’re doing, this change has benefits for you, especially if you can forget about not just the physical hardware but also the virtual machines,” he said.