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Microsoft Launches Azure Container Service Preview

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the availability of a preview of Azure Container Service (ACS), providing customers with the ability to manage multiple virtual machines acting as container hosts.

According to Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, ACS allows customers to create a cluster of such virtual machines, as well as create and manage master machines that can be used to orchestrate application containers. The service offers optimized configurations of open source scheduling and orchestration tools and can be used for the deployment of container based applications on Microsoft Azure.

The idea behind ACS was to offer a container hosting environment using open source tools already popular among customers. Microsoft will expose standard API endpoints to customer’s chosen orchestrator, allowing them to leverage software capable of talking to these endpoints (such as Docker Compose for Docker Swarm endpoints).

ACS was announced in September, when Microsoft revealed the service that was built in partnership with Docker Inc. and Mesosphere. The goal was to deliver a production ready container service based on Docker, Apache Mesos and open source components from Mesosphere's Datacenter Operating System (DCOS), and to ensure that the workloads can run optimally on Azure, without compromising application portability, Microsoft explains.

The tech giant claims that this approach will deliver increased flexibility and portability for applications, while also noting that the service offers support only for Linux containers at the moment. However, Windows Server Container support is expected to be added to ACS in the future, as Microsoft is working on offering Windows Server Containers using Docker and on porting Apache Mesos to Windows.

During the initial stages of preview, those interested are told to self-nominate, but users will first need an Azure subscription, for which free trials are available.

According to Ross Gardler, Azure Program Manager at Microsoft, full public access to Azure Container Service should become available in early 2016.

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