Microsoft Announces Azure Kubernetes Service Enhancements

Microsoft this week announced a few Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) product milestones as part of the KubeCon event.

The main news is that AKS now supports Kubernetes 1.19, which is at the "general availability" (GA) commercial-release stage. This latest version of Kubernetes adds Transport Layer Security 1.3 support, among other capabilities, according to a November AKS service update summary. In addition, the AKS image is now aligned with the Center for Internet Security's best practices security baseline.

As a consequence of the Kubernetes 1.19 support, AKS now supports the containerd container runtime at the GA stage, supplanting Moby (although Moby was based on containerd), Microsoft explained in this document. Organizations are expected to see "better pod startup latency and less resource (CPU and memory) usage" with containerd because it avoids an extra step of having to talk with the dockershim, the document added.

Organizations are advised to test containerd. However, if they stay on a version of Kubernetes below version 1.19, then they'll be using Moby, per the document.

Also at GA in AKS is the maxSurge feature, which lets Kubernetes upgrades happen faster. Users can specify how many concurrent replacements can take place per node pool with maxSurge, instead of doing replacements one node at a time.

Microsoft also indicated that "Ephemeral OS disk for AKS Agent Nodes is now generally available." This capability is supposed to result in "lower read/write latency," as well as "faster cluster operations."

Microsoft's announcement noted that the Kubernetes Event-driven Autoscaler (KEDA) project, fostered by Red Hat and Microsoft, is now an independent community project. KEDA, which is described as adding "Function as a Service (FaaS) and event-driven programming" to AKS, reached version 2.0 this month.

Microsoft's announcement revealed that the Xbox gaming service started using AKS for the Xbox Game Pass streaming service back in September. The new containerd and ephemeral disks feature additions have aided the Xbox service by reducing latency issues, Microsoft explained.

AKS is Microsoft's service for organizations needing Kubernetes container orchestration support when spinning up so-called "cloud-native" applications across clusters. These apps typically get built using "microservices," and containers serve as virtualized operating systems for those apps. The aim of this approach might be to rapidly develop applications and host multiple versions of them without conflicts, without having to be concerned about infrastructure nuances and potential hardware compatibility issues.

Microsoft's main benefit provided with its AKS service is that it takes care of all of the Kubernetes patching and upgrades for organizations.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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