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Azure portal updated with easier homepage navigation and new functionalities

Microsoft has brought a number of updates to its Azure portal, that will make the navigation of landing page easier, add new tile features to dashboard, and increase functionality in Azure Container Instances (ACI).

The Azure portal is a unified console that allows users to build, manage, and monitor everything from a single place. Users can choose to view and manage their web apps, databases, virtual machines (VMs), virtual networks, storage, and Visual Studio team projects. Enterprises can personalize the portal on the basis of team and projects.

Leon Welicki, Principal Group PM Manager, Azure portal, explained three updates in a recent blog post. The first one is the updated Azure portal home page (landing page). Microsoft has made the home page experience faster and easier so that users can enter Azure instantly. From there, they can check recent resources and navigate to most used services. They can also find the ways to use specialized services for learning, monitoring, securing, and optimizing the apps and infrastructure.

Microsoft has highlighted the primary services in the ‘Azure services section at the top, while providing access to other services in the list. The home page will display 12 recently used resources, but users can access full list as well.

Second, Microsoft has introduced a shared time range for tiles on dashboards. On Azure dashboards, the users previously had to set specific time range for individual tile, but now they can globally specify the time for supported tiles.

Third, there is a new start functionality in Azure Container Instances (ACI) that will make it easier to start and restart containers in ACI via the Azure portal. ACI is an application that allows development of apps without having to manage virtual machines or learning new tools.

“If you have any stopped containers, a new “Start” command will be available on the ACI overview page that will let you start all of your containers quickly and easily,” wrote Leon Welicki.

Also read: Microsoft furthers its commitment to open source with Citus Data acquisition

Microsoft will be launching new “how to” videos on YouTube on Azure channel, which will be related to Azure portal. These videos will help users to learn about specific features and make them more productive.

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Azure Container Instances, a serverless way to run Linux and Windows containers, is now generally available

Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure Container Instances (ACI) to bring the benefits of serverless computing to software containers.

The ACI was released for preview in July last year. It enables developers to run Linux and Windows containers without having to manage any virtual machines, and provides automatic and elastic scalability.

The software containers already help developers and make their life easier, but they need to manage the virtual machines. The aim of Azure Container Instances is to remove the need of managing those VMs, and make the things easier and simpler for developers.

The multi-tenant workloads that run inside the containers on same VM can sometimes be challenging to secure. On that end, Microsoft has included a deep security model in ACI that protects the individual container at a hyper-visor level. What this security model in ACI does is isolating the containers without the need to create hosting cluster.

ACI will also support Kubernetes through the Virtual Kubelet, which was announced at KubeCon in December last year. The Virtual Kubelet integrates the existing features of Kubernetes connector and enables users to target ACI and works with other serverless computing platforms. Several companies including VMware, AWS, and Hyper.sh, are contributing to Virtual Kubelet.

The billing of Azure Container Instances will be done according to processing time and memory usage per second. Microsoft has currently set the price at $0.000012 per CPU-second and $0.000004 per gigabyte-second.

Also read: Azure Time Series Insights— managed analytics service for IoT devices, now available in public preview

“ACI supports quick, cleanly packaged burst compute that removes the overhead of managing cluster machines. Some of our largest customers are also using ACI for data processing where source data is ingested, processed, and placed in a durable store such as Azure Blob Storage,” wrote Corey Sanders, Corporate Vice President, Azure, in a blog post. “ACI enables each stage of work to be efficiently packaged as a container assigned with custom resource definitions for agile development, testing, and deployment. By processing the data with ACI rather than statically provisioned virtual machines, you can achieve significant cost savings due to ACI’s granular per-second billing.”

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Microsoft Azure adds DevOps and Serverless capabilities to Kubernetes community 

Microsoft, at KubeCon in Austin, Texas, announced two new open-source projects for serverless containers and Kubernetes-native DevOps, making it easier for developers to do more with Azure and Kubernetes.

Virtual Kubelet and Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA), the new open source projects, are built upon the existing services of Microsoft.

Virtual Kubelet

Virtual Kubelet is a new version of Azure Container Instances (ACI) Connector for Kubernetes, which Microsoft had released in July this year on an experimental basis. It offers the per-second billing model, suited to handle short-term usage fluctuations.

The Virtual Kubelet comes with a pluggable architecture that supports several runtimes. It integrates existing features of Kubernetes connector and enables users to target ACI or any equivalent runtime, empowering developers with serverless containers.

The container hosting company, Hyper.sh, is joining in as a contributor to the project.

James Kulina, Chief Operating Officer of Hyper.sh said“Hyper is very excited to support the Virtual-Kublet project, as the first outside contributor. Hyper’s vision from the start has been to make deploying and using containers as simple and easy as possible. Now with the Virtual-Kublet project, platforms that support secure container technology, such as our Hyper.sh cloud through its use of Kata Containers, will enable seamless multi-cloud container deployment between Kubernetes-based “serverless container” platforms.”

Open Service Broker for Azure (OSBA)

OSBA, built using Open Service Broker API, will make it easier for developers to connect their containers to Azure services.

It will enable the developers to access popular Azure services including Azure CosmosDB, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and Azure Blob Storage through Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry.

Additionally, Microsoft also introduced a dashboard and visualization tool for Brigade pipelines, called Kashti. Brigade is a tool that helps developers to quickly perform multiple tasks at a time and execute them in containers.

Kashti will enable developers to easily manage and visualize Brigade projects using a web browser.

Microsoft plans to announce more Kubernetes community projects and partnerships at KubeCon. The Azure powered application with OSBA are now available.

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Microsoft strengthens its position in the evolving container space with ACI Service

Microsoft is swiftly but strategically contributing to open-source projects to strengthen its position in the cloud market. Recently, the cloud juggernaut announced two new game-changing decisions – introduction of Azure Container Instances (ACI) to drive innovation in the container space and joining Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) that’s hosted by The Linux Foundation as a platinum member, as a part of Microsoft’s continued engagement with the education and open-source community at large.

The new Azure service will provide users to instantly access containers allowing them to build applications quickly, without requiring any Virtual Machine infrastructure management. ACI is a unique, easy and fast service in the cloud as the container will start within seconds and will be billed for usage in seconds.

It will let the user applications perfectly fit on the infrastructure with versatile sizing capabilities. Users will be able to easily keep track of individual containers with role-based access and billing tags.

The Container Instances for Linux have been made available in the public preview but support for Windows containers will be available in coming weeks. It can be deployed either from a template or from Azure Command Line Interface (CLI).

Users can also deploy it from a public repository like Docker Hub or even pull from their private repository with the help of Azure Container Registry. The deployed containers will be separated from others through virtualization techniques.

Microsoft’s another move to join the entity that supports open source Kubernetes container orchestration project, will further strengthen its Azure containerization platform.

Also Read: Microsoft’s hiked quarterly earnings confirm its booming cloud business

Kubernetes was originally developed under Google. It was made open-source in 2015 when it came under CNCF. Now, it stands as a major technology that helps developers run their container applications anywhere.

Microsoft also mentioned in a blog that ACI tool is not an orchestration product, but it will work with such products (orchestration) to control container deployments. The company is also launching an ACI connector for Kubernetes, which will help link the two services.

Credit: Microsoft

By associating with Kubernetes, Microsoft aims to support the key technology trusted by many customers to help them built what they want.

Microsoft is trying to keep Azure relevant with all the latest technology trends and user demands. This announcement is another step towards this direction.