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Microsoft Readying Kubernetes on Azure with New Developer Perks

Microsoft announced during this week's Build Conference that its Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), formerly known as "managed Kubernetes on Azure," will reach general availability status "in the next few weeks."

The official name change to AKS was noted by Gabe Monroy, program manager lead on containers for Microsoft Azure. He also was the former CTO of Deis, a maker of open source tools for Kubernetes, a company that Microsoft acquired last year. The name change is worth noting because Microsoft has an Azure Container Service (ACS) that also supports Kubernetes. The difference between ACS and AKS is that AKS adds automated support for upgrades and scaling capabilities, plus it has self-healing aspects, aiming to make spinning up containers on Kubernetes easier for developers.

Kubernetes itself is a container orchestration service for clusters that was originally fostered by Google. Microsoft lately has been working to make Kubernetes easier to use when hosted on its Azure datacenter infrastructure. Containers are operating system virtualization solutions, largely fostered by Docker, that aim to make it easier for applications to be hosted without conflicts.

Monroy indicated that AKS is now "part of the Kubernetes Conformance Program," a certification program run by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation that assures it can be used in different environments. He also described some new features leading up to the coming general availability milestone.

Portal, DevOps and IDE Perks
Developers and IT pros are getting some graphical user interface and integrated development (IDE) environment perks to make deployment, management and debugging of AKS easier. On the management and configuration side, the Azure Portal now has "new AKS create and browse experiences," Microsoft announced.

On the deployment side, there's now support in the Azure DevOps Project for deploying AKS. Microsoft introduced the Azure DevOps Project during last year's Connect event. It's a wizard-like means of creating continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, permitting the deployment of Azure App Services capabilities. Azure DevOps Project is accessed via the Azure Portal and is supported by Visual Studio Team Services, and it now can be used to deploy AKS, containerize apps and get telemetry information via App Insights "with a few simple clicks," Monroy explained.

Microsoft also announced this week that the Azure DevOps Project also supports creating Azure Virtual Machines, Azure SQL Databases and Service Fabric instances, plus it supports deployments of Go and Ruby applications to Azure App Services.

On the IDE side, Microsoft launched a "private preview" of Azure Dev Spaces. It lets developers "debug multiple containers directly in Kubernetes just by hitting F5," according to the product description. It works with IDEs such as "Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code or the [Azure] command line" and permits collaboration among team members. Azure Dev Spaces makes it simple to develop when using "a complex microservices environment," according to Monroy.

AKS Improvements
Microsoft added four new features to AKS. First, it's now possible to deploy Kubernetes nodes into "custom VNets using Azure CNI [Container Networking Interface]." Next, AKS now supports "DNS [Domain Name System] endpoints for Kubernetes ingress resources," which takes away the burden of having to configure "DNS records and nameservers."

Another improvement is the ability to "orchestrate Windows containers on top of AKS," which is currently at the private preview stage. It's possible to sign up for this private preview at this page.

Lastly, Azure Monitor in the Azure Portal now supports AKS at the preview stage. It shows "telemetry, log aggregation and container health monitoring" information.

In related news, Microsoft announced this week that it has created a private preview of "a new Azure Resource Provider for HashiCorp Terraform" for Azure Resource Manager (ARM) users. It lets ARM users "leverage HashiCorp Terraform to provision third-party services directly via ARM," according to HashiCorp's announcement. The initial services supported by the preview include Kubernetes, Datadog and Cloudflare, although Microsoft plans to add additional providers closer to the general availability stage.

Among the supported scenarios, the new ARM capability will let users write an "ARM template that creates a new Kubernetes Cluster on Azure Container Service (AKS)." Next, using the Terraform provider, dependent resources such as "pods, services and secrets," can be created, according to Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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