Tuesday’s announcement that the Kubernetes container-orchestration system is now GA on Microsoft Azure
wasn’t exactly a surprise—it has been in beta for months, and the company hired Kubernetes co-creator Brendan Burns from Google in July—but it’s still a big deal. Basically, you have the second place (and, by all accounts, coming-on-strong) cloud provider in Microsoft providing the most-comprehensive offering of container platforms of anybody in the market.
I’ll be diving deeper into the shifting sands of the cloud computing market on the website this week, but suffice it to say that becoming the market leader in hosting containerized workloads would be a big win for Microsoft.
It has a real chance, too, especially in terms of managed container-orchestration (aka container-as-a-service / CaaS) offerings. At least according to people with whom I’ve spoken, they’re often none too impressed with Amazon Elastic Container Service. Folks running Kubernetes like Google Container Engine just fine, but that’s a Kubernetes-only service. Meanwhile, Azure supports Kubernetes, DC/OS and Docker Swarm.
While most of the attention is on Kubernetes, I can assure you from firsthand experience (I worked at Mesosphere until recently) that DC/OS has some big users and that Mesosphere has some big customers for its enterprise edition. By giving customers a platform where they can experiment with, or even run both systems as managed services, Microsoft is showing that it knows a thing or two about how this industry works.
CaaS platforms are also the foundation for many third-party and/or open source serverless/function-based/lambda computing systems, which are catching on today and will only get more popular over the next several years. And, as Box co-founder Sam Ghods explained on the ArchiTECHt Show podcast recently
, a technology like Kubernetes, if it’s popular enough, has the opportunity to ramp up IT productivity across the board by becoming a standard platform for which engineers write tools.
Remember when Azure launched and it was much more PaaS-like than IaaS-like? Well, PaaS is giving way to CaaS in a lot of instances (although, Stitch Fix is a big Heroku shop
we found out recently), and Microsoft’s early vision is in the process of being justified. Now it just needs to capitalize and hope the head start it gave Amazon Web Services
is not insurmountable.