Microsoft rolls out its first Azure container tool from Deis

New tool is designed to simplify deployment of Kubernetes containers.

container stack
James Saunders (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Just one month ago, Microsoft acquired Deis, an open source software developer focused on making Kubernetes easier to use. One month later, the acquisition pays off in the form of the first product from the group, called Draft.

Draft is a tool designed to simplify and ease development of applications running on any Kubernetes cluster. Microsoft made the announcement at the CoreOS Fest in San Francisco, a conference discussing container technology. It also posted the news on the Azure blog. Gabe Monroy, lead project manager for containers on Microsoft Azure and former CTO of Deis, made the announcements.

“While many turn to Kubernetes for its extensible architecture and vibrant open-source community, some still view Kubernetes as too difficult to use,” he wrote.

That’s where Draft comes in. Using two simple commands, developers can now begin hacking on container-based applications without requiring Docker or even installing Kubernetes.

When it purchased Deis, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of cloud and enterprise, said the acquisition is part of Microsoft's commitment to ensuring Azure is the best place to run containerized workloads.

Microsoft has really gotten the container religion in recent years, almost from the moment containers were introduced. Docker containers first hit the market in 2013, but were very much a Linux-only technology.

A container is basically a very small virtual machine that has the bare minimum of technology code needed to run. It’s designed to be even more lightweight than a virtual machine, since the VM runs the full OS. However, containers are not meant as a replacement for VMs but a complement. You can run dozens or even hundreds of containers within one virtual machine, and then have many virtual machines on one system, all running containers.

Microsoft introduced Docker on Windows Server, running Linux containers, but really got into it with the release of Windows Server 2016, which had native Docker support for Windows, which was developed via a partnership between Microsoft and Docker. This eliminated the need for Linux virtual machine in the middle.

Microsoft’s Docker support is still a little green, which is no surprise given its newness. It only runs on Server 2016 and Windows 10 and of course, only runs Windows apps, but there are separate containers for Linux apps as well.

The Draft tool detects the application language being used to write the app and writes out a simple Dockerfile and Kubernetes Helm, the package manager for Kubernetes. Draft supports Python, Node.js, Java, Ruby, PHP, and Go. It then writes out a build and deployment configuration, so the development and container deployment are handled in one fell swoop.

Draft is available now on GitHub.

In other Azure news, Microsoft today announced the public preview of Azure Site Recovery. The solution enables businesses to create a disaster recovery plan for their Azure apps that will automatically recover in another geographic location, since down time is often confined to one physical location.

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