Microsoft is now trying to use Google’s secret cloud weapon against it
Microsoft unveils the Azure Container Service, which uses Kubernetes, a software project invented by Google
By Matt Weinberger
On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled the Azure Container Service, a new service for the Azure cloud computing platform that’s built on Kubernetes — a mega-popular open source cloud technology built by Google.
Kubernetes is a software project that started out as a way for Google to manage its massive server infrastructure and has since become a go-to tool for modern software developers.
While the market-leading Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure both offer some kind of support for Kubernetes, Google Cloud prides itself on being the first and best place to use the software, given that it was invented there.
Now, with Azure Container Service — abbreviated as AKS, to mark its place in the world of Kubernetes — Microsoft is betting that Azure can beat Google Cloud in the Kubernetes game. AKS makes it easy, or at least easier, for customers to run Kubernetes at large scales, with boosted management and maintenance tools. It’s available as a free beta for the time being, says Microsoft.
Google’s double-edged sword
Underlying Kubernetes is a trendy developer technology called software containers that was pioneered by Docker, a startup valued at more than US$1 billion.
Containers are neat metaphorical boxes into which developers can package their software programmes. They ensure the applications run in the same way regardless of the computers running them, whether they’re laptops, servers, data centres or cloud platforms. That speaks to Microsoft’s so-called “hybrid cloud” focus, which hinges on hooking the Azure cloud together with customers’ existing data centres.
Kubernetes “has emerged as the open source standard for container orchestration,” as Microsoft acknowledges in its blog entry, with startups and big tech companies alike flocking to support it.
In a sense, it’s a big coup for Google that Kubernetes has become the standard in this field. However, with competitors like Amazon and Microsoft making big bets on Kubernetes, too, the burden falls on Google to make sure the tech it invented actually gives it an edge in the cloud wars.
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