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Microsoft today unveiled a new managed cloud service that’s supposed to make it easier for its customers to run containerized applications in the cloud using Kubernetes.

The new Azure Container Service (AKS) launched in beta today will allow companies to run a hosted version of Kubernetes — an open source orchestration system for containerized applications — in Microsoft’s cloud with automatic upgrades, simplified scaling, self-healing capabilities, and a hosted control plane.

One of the key differentiators for Microsoft is that customers will only pay for the compute capacity they use, and the added management capabilities won’t cost more. That’s a marked difference from something like Google’s Container Engine service, which commands a premium price for larger compute clusters.

The news is part of the company’s overall move to embrace Kubernetes, which originated at Google. In fact, Microsoft has been on a hiring spree over the past couple years, bringing on Kubernetes experts like Brendan Burns, who cofounded the project when he worked at the Mountain View-based company.


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This announcement also comes a few months after the acquisition of Deis, a Kubernetes management startup that Microsoft picked up in April.

Customers of AKS can expect that Microsoft will keep the service up to date with the latest upstream releases from the Kubernetes open source project. At launch, it will default to using Kubernetes 1.7.7, the software’s latest stable release, though customers will be able to opt into using the new 1.8 beta if they choose to do so.

“With Brendan [Burns] and myself in charge of these services, making sure that we stay aligned with what’s happening in upstream Kubernetes is extremely important to us,” said Gabe Monroy, the former CTO of Deis, who is now a lead product manager at Microsoft.

In addition to the Kubernetes news, Microsoft announced that Azure Container Registry, its managed service for hosting container images, has become generally available. The tech titan also announced a new beta of geo-replication in ACR, so companies can distribute the same container image across multiple cloud regions by clicking a map in the Azure management portal.

According to Monroy, that feature is designed to make it easier for global businesses to more effectively serve their customers around the world.

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