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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces Public Preview of Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes at Build 2020

Microsoft Announces Public Preview of Azure Arc Enabled Kubernetes at Build 2020

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During this year's digital Build event, Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes with support for most of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-certified Kubernetes distributions. With this capability, customers can manage and govern their Kubernetes clusters from Azure across their data centers, multi-cloud configurations, and Azure Stack Hub.

Microsoft released Azure Arc as a preview last year in November during the Ignite Conference. The new service makes it easier for customers to deploy and manage Azure services across multiple clouds and on-premises IT environments. The public cloud vendor is now expanding that capability with Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes, allowing customers to attach and configure Kubernetes clusters inside or outside of Azure. 

Furthermore, Microsoft announced the first set of Azure Arc integration partners, including Red Hat OpenShift, Canonical Kubernetes, and Rancher Labs to ensure Azure Arc works for all the key platforms their customers are currently using. In the announcement blog post, Mike Evans, vice president, technical business development, Red Hat OpenShift, said:

Red Hat OpenShift delivers the industry's most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform, with a proven track record and large installed base and tailor-built for workloads that need to run across the hybrid cloud. Azure Arc helps to provide a common control plane for OpenShift from corporate datacenters to the public cloud, providing a single management point for organizations seeking to pair the flexibility and innovation of OpenShift with the scalability and power of Azure.



Connecting a Kubernetes cluster to the Azure platform requires an administrator to deploy agents, which according to the Microsoft documentation run in a Kubernetes namespace named azure-arc and are standard Kubernetes deployments. These agents are responsible for connecting to Azure Arc, collecting Azure Arc logs and metrics, and watching for configuration requests. Furthermore, note that Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes supports industry-standard SSL to secure data in transit, and data is stored encrypted at rest in an Azure Cosmos DB database.

Eventually, Azure Arc will provide customers with a single pane of glass operating model for all their Kubernetes clusters deployed across multiple locations. It will bring them Azure management to the clusters – and thus unlock other Azure capabilities such as Azure Policy, Azure Monitor, and Azure Resource Graph.

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Jeremy Winter, partner director, Azure Management, wrote in the same announcement blog post:

By bringing every system into Azure Arc, it's much easier to establish clear roles and responsibilities for team members based on a clear separation of concerns without sacrificing visibility and access.

Also, Thorsten Hans, a consultant at Thinktecture AG, stated in his blog post about Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes:

Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes cluster is a massive step towards managing multi-cloud environments. Microsoft Azure provides first-class management capabilities. Your organization can benefit from well-known governance and inventory capabilities offered by Azure. I think Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes is beneficial for companies with existing on-premises environments because they can still use already paid servers and start moving their infrastructure management into the public cloud.

Currently, Microsoft is not the only public cloud vendor investing in hybrid cloud computing services. Google, for instance, launched Anthos into general availability a year ago and recently delivered support for multi-cloud. Amazon also offers hybrid computing capabilities with AWS Outpost and VMware Cloud on AWS

Microsoft currently provides Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes in the East US and West Europe Azure regions. Furthermore, it supports the following scenarios:

  • Connecting Kubernetes clusters running outside of Azure
  • Using GitOps
  • Azure Monitor for containers
  • Azure Policy for Kubernetes

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