- Microsoft Azure’s recent noteworthy announcements include joining CNCF and previewing an easy-to-deploy container service.
- Microsoft’s moves not only highlight efforts to make Azure more usable for customers and developers, but also seek to position AWS as an inflexible walled garden.
Microsoft had a banner week in the hotly contested cloud wars. Amid claims as the top revenue earner against AWS, Salesforce and others (with an annual ‘intelligent cloud’ revenue run rate of $18.9 billion), Microsoft rolled out an aggressive strategy to provide the easiest on-ramp into the cloud via a new container service.
The preview of its Azure Container Instances (ACI) service, announced late last week, plays into developer consensus that containers represent the easiest way to create and deploy apps across various scenarios. The service eliminates the need to manage VMs and provides a straightforward set of commands to deploy containers quickly.
The move is particularly important because barriers for adoption around next-generation developer technologies including containers and microservices remain, despite the promises in agility, lower cost and portability. We see two barriers in particular which need to be addressed by cloud providers:
- Cost-Benefit – While it makes sense for ISVs to containerize huge monolithic apps, the cost-benefit ratio for enterprises looking to refactor smaller/departmental apps into containers is not as clear.
- Provisioning Complexities – Production technologies are built around virtualization, so enterprises struggle with provisioning containers alongside security, storage and networking.
Perhaps even more important in its ability to differentiate from Amazon, Microsoft joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), embracing the popular Kubernetes orchestration management technology (originating at Google) and further shunning Amazon from enterprise cloud circles. Amazon has not joined this high-profile group and only supports Kubernetes via partnerships.
Microsoft has been stepping up its developer messaging in recent weeks, demonstrating its ability to innovate and provide thought leadership around emerging app development architectures, including serverless computing. Microsoft recently outlined a set of complementary solutions for a high-impact serverless approach based on Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps and Step Functions. This is all prefaced on its most significant announcement of the quarter, its Azure Stack hybrid cloud offering featuring a common management platform between its public and private cloud.
Expect to see a lot more platform service rollouts involving containers, microservices, etc. later this year during fall conferences in which cloud rivals continue to attempt to one-up one another.