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Azure Kubernetes Service Now Has Optional Service-Level Agreements

Microsoft this week announced optional service-level agreements (SLAs) for the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).

AKS is Microsoft's container orchestration service for clusters, based on the Google-fostered Kubernetes open source solution. It can be used to manage containerized applications in DevOps-type scenarios. The management aspect of AKS is free to use, but there are Azure subscription costs associated with its storage and networking operations, per Microsoft's pricing page description.

The AKS service has lacked an SLA option until this week, although it does have a so-called "service-level objective" of 99.5% for regional AKS implementations as well as for AKS implementations backed by Azure Availability Zones. In effect, though, a service-level objective is just a Microsoft internal goal and isn't a financially backed contract on uptime.

In contrast, SLAs are contractual promises to assure that a service will continue to run over the year, with a service-credit given if the service should falter. Microsoft now lets organizations needing an SLA for compliance or other reasons buy one for AKS' API Server, which is done via licensing add-ons.

Add-On Options
There are two AKS licensing add-on options, both listed at a cost of $0.10 per hour. However, organizations get greater uptime assurance if they are using AKS with Azure Availability Zones, which is an optional service that adds greater resiliency and fault tolerance to Azure services.

The promised uptimes for the two AKS SLA add-ons are:

  • AKS SLA regional: 99.9%
  • AKS SLA with Azure Availability Zone support: 99.95%

At this point in the rollout, Microsoft is only offering the AKS SLA add-ons with new clusters, "but we will be introducing an option to convert existing clusters to it in the coming months," the announcement explained.

There's another caveat for add-on buyers, as "currently, there is no way to remove Uptime SLA from an AKS cluster," Microsoft explained, in an AKS SLA document (dated May 11).

Availability
The new SLA add-ons are presently just available in the following Azure regions, per the document:

  • Australia East
  • Canada Central
  • East US
  • East US 2
  • South Central US
  • South East Asia
  • West US 2

Right now, organizations wanting the SLA add-ons need to create a new cluster. It needs to get done using the Azure Command Line Interface tool at "version 2.7.0 or later," per the document.

With these SLAs, Microsoft typically promises to deliver a percentage uptime per year for a service. Organizations pay for the SLAs. In return, Microsoft may allow a service-time credit, rather than a monetary payment, for any service downtime that may occur. Typically, organizations must actively apply for this credit to get it. Microsoft could disallow a credit if an organization has an alternative way of getting the service, although that would seem unlikely in the case of its AKS service.

About the Author

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

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