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Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Is Now Generally Available - More Regions and New Features

| by Steef-Jan Wiggers Follow 9 Followers on Jun 20, 2018. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

At the end of October 2017 Microsoft announced a preview of AKS (Azure Container Service), a managed Kubernetes service in Azure. Now almost seven months later this service is generally available (GA), and it joins a space with many competitive managed Kubernetes services by other cloud providers, each offering different functionality and deployment locations. 

With the release of AKS, Microsoft increased the availability of the service to five new regions, including Australia East, UK South, West US, West US 2, and North Europe. In a blog post about the release, Brendan Burns, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Azure, said:

With AKS in all these regions, users from around the world, or with applications that span the world, can deploy and manage their production Kubernetes applications with the confidence that Azure's engineers are providing constant monitoring, operations, and support for our customers’ fully managed Kubernetes clusters. 

The GA release of AKS includes a set of new features available in all regions like the Kubernetes role-based access control (RBAC), Azure Active Directory-based identity, and the ability to deploy clusters into pre-existing custom virtual networks.

Microsoft made some contributions to the Kubernetes community to broaden the space of tooling for Kubernetes in general. In an Azure Friday episode - Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) GA, Burns said:

It's important that this technology be approachable and available to developers no matter where their skill level is. Parts of my team are focused pretty completely on developing open source tooling that makes it easier to use Kubernetes wherever you're running it.

Also, Burns told InfoQ:

We're continuing to work on open source tools like Helm (which we were excited to see become a top-level CNCF project), Draft, Brigade, the VS Code extension for Kubernetes and more exciting projects to come.


Furthermore, Microsoft is working on virtual kubelet, a cross-industry effort lead by them that brings Kubernetes management in environments without VMs using innovative technology like Azure Container Instances.

AKS is not the only managed Kubernetes service in the cloud as more public cloud providers offer this service. In a recent news item, InfoQ reported a comparison on the Kubernetes services from the "Big Three" public cloud providers Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS), and AKS differ in several aspects such as worker role provisioning and managing upgrades.

In the same blog post on the release, Burns says that AKS is now generally available in ten regions across three continents, and Microsoft expects to add ten more regions in the coming months. Furthermore, Burns states that the managed Kubernetes service is free; that is, there is no additional charge for the management and control plane part of the service. Microsoft does, however, charge for the use of Linux or Windows-based Azure Virtual Machines – and there are costs associated with the use of static or dynamic IP addresses. Pricing details are available on the AKS pricing page, and IP addresses pricing page. Also, the pricing calculator can provide insights into potential costs.

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