Microsoft announced today that Azure Container Instances, the company’s offering for running software containers without provisioning the underlying infrastructure, entered general availability.

ACI is a serverless offering — that is, all customers need to do is provide the service with a container image, and Azure will take care of the remaining work to get it up and running. Microsoft bills customers on a per-second basis. For example, customers using ACI in the US West region will pay .0012 cents per virtual CPU used per second and .0004 cents per GB of RAM used per second.

It’s designed to make it easier for customers to get their containerized workloads off the ground and further distance engineers from the work of provisioning infrastructure for their applications. That’s a stark difference from having to spin up a virtual machine to host the containerized workload and get everything set up themselves.

“By and large, people are looking at ACI for burst compute workloads, things like ETL jobs and some event-driven use cases,” Gabe Monroy, Microsoft Azure’s principal program manager for containers, said in an interview. “But really, the batch stuff is probably the biggest driver. Besides that, I would say there is definitely significant demand for lifting and shifting things like .NET applications that are running on-prem to the cloud using ACI.”

Microsoft launched ACI last summer and has been working with customers ever since to better understand how it can improve the offering. Since then, the service’s pricing has changed, with the tech titan eliminating a fee for creating instances and reducing its prices for compute and memory use, at least in US West.

It competes with offerings like Fargate, the serverless container offering that Amazon Web Services launched in beta last November at its Re:Invent conference.


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