At its online Ignite 2021 conference this week, Microsoft expanded its portfolio of tools and platforms for building cloud-native applications using containers to include a preview of Azure Container Apps, a fully managed serverless container service for building microservices that scale dynamically based on HTTP traffic, events or long-running background jobs.
At the core of that service is Kubernetes event-driven autoscaling (KEDA), which adds a module to a Kubernetes cluster that explicitly maps applications to an event-driven platform and the distributed application runtime (Dapr) set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it simpler to build distributed applications, and open source Envoy proxy software.
Microsoft also revealed updates to Azure Arc, the control plane for distributed computing environments that is based on Kubernetes, is now more tightly integrated with both VMware vSphere and the hyperconverged infrastructure instance of Azure Stack that Microsoft makes available for on-premises IT environments.
Microsoft has also made Azure Logic Apps Standard generally available, which is used to run workflows anywhere on a single-tenant instance of Azure. There is also now a preview of the integration between that offering and Azure Arc.
There is also now an add-on for Azure Arc that can be used to build, train and deploy machine learning models in on-premises systems, multiple public clouds and edge computing platforms.
In addition, Microsoft announced that the Open Service Mesh (OSM) add-on based on open source Envoy proxy software is now generally available on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
Microsoft is making tools that enable Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) applications to run on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) along with an instance of the Red Hat OpenShift platform based on Kubernetes available on Azure.
Finally, Microsoft has extended its Azure Migration and Modernization Program to enable customers to move existing Red Hat OpenShift workloads to Azure in addition to helping customers add support for Arc to any workload.
Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and AI Group, told conference attendees that cloud-native applications that dynamically scale up and down as required will define the next application era. The challenge, of course, is finding a way to make that transition when the bulk of existing applications are based on a monolithic architecture that still largely runs in on-premises IT environments.
Microsoft is clearly betting on a set of managed services that makes it easier to build and deploy cloud-native applications while employing Arc to manage what is becoming a hybrid cloud computing environment made up of a wide range of types of applications and platforms. Of course, other cloud service providers have similar ambitions. The advantage Microsoft has is that, in addition to a rapidly growing Azure cloud platform, many of the servers running in on-premises IT environments are running some version of its Windows server software.
It may be a while before the battle for control over the next era of hybrid cloud computing is ultimately settled. In the meantime, however, Microsoft is clearly committed to encouraging developers to write a lot of cloud-native applications that can scale more readily than the monolithic applications that currently dominate the IT landscape.