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Developer Panel Discusses Microservices, Containers and Serverless at Microsoft Connect

| by Pierre-Luc Maheu Follow 4 Followers on Nov 30, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

A developer panel was held at Microsoft Connect() following the multiple annoucements of new features and releases. Microservices and containers are in the center of the discussion, along with Azure, serverless architecture and developer tooling.

Containers
A question about migrating a large app to containers led to a discussion on the benefits of containers and microservices. The panel took the Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) platform as an of containers usage at Microsoft. The VSTS team is looking at ways to migrate the architecture to containers so that releasing and scaling a specific part of the system is possible.

More specifically for developpers, the Docker tools in Visual Studio 2017 are a quick way to get started to do microservices in .Net. However, the panel warns that while tooling makes microservice implementaton easier, it also represents a significant shift in the design of an application.

Beside scaling, bringing setup of a development environment closer to production is another benefit of containers. The example given by the panel is a developer running his Windows 10 pro laptop with IIS express. The application will, ultimately, be deployed into production with Windows Server, full IIS and so on. Using containers, the same software can run on the developer’s laptop, reducing the risk of getting different behaviors between development and production system.

Azure Container Service vs Azure Service Fabric
Related to containers and microservices, a question was asked about how does Azure Containers Service relates to Azure Service Fabric. Azure Container Service goal is to offer choice. Developers can choose open source tools such as DC/OS, Docker Swarm and Kubernetes to run them in Azure Container Service. Other open source components are offered as well, enabling migrations to and from Azure.

On the other hand, Azure Service Fabric is more focused on microservices and more prescriptive in the way it solves problems. The goal is to make it more straightforward to create microservices, at the cost of having less choices in the implementation.

The motivation behind offering both services is that offering multiple choices will better serve developers. The panel states that there is a lot of diversity in the containers/microservice space and it’s not the time “to pick a winner”.

Azure Functions
Microsoft announced general availability of Azure Functions prior to the panel. Serveless architectures, being new, brings questions about how to use them effectively. The panel discussed Azure functions in the context of building micro-services.

Azure Functions is better suited, in its current state, for applications where the complexity is focused inside a single microservice. Applications composed of many microservices need more advanced management features such as orchestration and discovery, which are not yet implemented.

Visual Studio for Mac
Related to the announcement of Visual Studio coming to Mac OS, a question was asked on whether new features would be released simultaneously on both platforms. Features will not be necessarily released at the same time, although a large portion of the Visual Studio codebase is platform agnostic, making portability easier.

Portability of Visual Studio extensions and Roslyn analyzers was also discussed. The panel confirmed that, with the APIs of Visual Studio being portable, the extensions and Roslyn analyzers are portable as well.

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