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Azure Container Service is a cloud computing service developed by Microsoft to provide a simple way of creating, configuring and managing a group of virtual machines or computers that are already configured to deploy containerized applications.

What is Containerization?

Containerization is one of the virtualization strategies which are used to run and deploy distributed applications or services without the launch of a whole virtual machine for each application. These distributed applications or services access the same operating system and run on a single host using the containers.

What are Containers?

Containers, in general, are defined as to hold products for storing, packing and shipping. Similarly, in cloud computing, containers are defined as packages to hold applications that depend on virtual isolation and to run those applications that share a single operating system without any need for virtual machines.

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Containerization Vs Virtualization:

The major difference between containerization and virtualization is the usage of a single operating system. The containers share a single operating system whereas multiple operating systems or virtual machines are required to deploy and run applications and processes in virtualization. Containers are very quick and easy to configure and deploy online or offline as per user need, besides less usage of server power to run the applications effectively.

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Dockers and Kubernetes:

Dockers:

Docker is a standard software unit used to perform containerization. A Docker is a standalone, lightweight and executable software package that contains code, tools, settings, libraries and runtime required to deploy an application. A container image turns into a container during runtime and when a Docker image is deployed on Docker engine it gets converted to a container. These Dockers are available for both Windows and Linux based applications. The Dockers that run on Docker engine are

  • Light weight–The usage of operating system per application is avoided as containers share a single operating system kernel, thus resulting in higher efficiency of server and reducing licensing costs.
  • Standard– Dockers made standard portable containers as per the industry.
  • Secure–Dockers provide a high level of security and isolation capabilities for the applications in containers.
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Kubernetes:

Kubernetes is an open source container lifecycle management system which is used for automatic deployment, management and scaling of containers across hosts or clusters. Kubernetes has been introduced by Google but now maintained by Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Kubernetes works with a wide range of containers tools including Docker.

Features of Kubernetes:

  • Kubernetes provides containers with their own IP addresses and single domain name for a bunch of containers besides load balancing them.
  • Containers are placed automatically based on the requirement of resources and other conditions giving priority to the availability.
  • The user preferred storage system is automatically mounted from either local storage or from the cloud.
  • Kubernetes self heals the defective containers by either restarting or replacing the containers and displays them to users only when they are healed.
  • Kubernetes runs and updates the applications and secrets without exposing them and rebuilding the image in a stack configuration.
  • Kubernetes manage batch and workload executions besides managing applications with simple commands.
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Azure container Service:

As said in the beginning, Azure Containers Services are developed to choose cloud computing platform that are designed for one’s container specifications or needs.

Types of Azure Container Services:

Depending on the needs or specifications of the containers, Azure container services are divided into 6 types.

  1. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS):

Azure Kubernetes Service simplifies the management of clustered Kubernetes in Azure.  AKS enables the user to modify and manage Linux containers.

  1. Azure App Service:

Azure App Service enables users to create and deploy enterprise-grade mobile and web applications that run on any platform meeting precise performance, security, compliance requirements and scalability through a highly managed platform.

  1. Azure Container Instances (ACI):

A user can run workloads in ACI without managing the infrastructure; deploy containers with a single command on demand; gain security while maintaining the effectiveness of containers through hypervisor isolation.

Azure Batch assists in running large scale high-performance applications parallelly and efficiently in batches. A user has a choice of tools and operating system; avail computing power when needed; plan compute concentrated tasks and add or remove compute resources dynamically.

  1. Azure Service Fabric:

Azure Fabric Service makes it easy to enclose, set up, and handle reliable and sealable containers. Users can manage major challenges related to infrastructure and concentrate on employing workloads that are mission critical, reliable, scalable and manageable.

  1. Azure Container Registry:

Azure Container Registry helps users to manage images for all containers; handle single registry across various regions; decrease network delays and remove inflow/outflow charges by keeping Docker Registry in the same area of deployment; User has a facility to use open source Docker tools that are compatible with Docker Registry.

Why Azure Container Services?

Azure Container services have the following features over other container services.

  • Speed up the development of containerized applications

A user can accelerate the development of containerized applications through Azure Command Line Interface (CLI)or point-click feature in Azure Visual Studio; can build and deploy Docker containers in any language and loop across various containers; integrate containers into existing workflows using Visual Studio and DevOps.

  • Deployment of applications in the chosen atmosphere

Azure Container Service allows the user to shift wide range of applications to Azure Stack or their own data points; design and build containers using users’ choice of services like AKS, App Service and Service Fabric; choose external vendor tools and platforms like OpenShift, Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Docker Enterprise Edition.

  • Monitor, Secure and Manage Containers

Azure Container Service effectively manages a Docker Registry privately with Container Registry and containers images with open source Command Line Interface tools; provides security to the containers that includes run time security, compliance and vulnerability scanning using Twistlock or Aqua; user can get a full view of container deployment and can view information regarding processing, storage, network, memory and performance with Log Analytics and Application Insights.

Conclusion:

Azure Containers Services stands as one of the best Container Service since it is more sensitive for Windows users and supports both Linux and Windows containers. A user has to pay only for the Virtual Machine resources while Kubernetes is free of cost.