Running Containers on Azure: What Are Your Options
If you’re looking to run containers in the cloud, one of the main options you want to seriously consider is Azure. With the current hype on Kubernetes, every technology company is looking forward to beginning its modernization journey with containers. However, the Azure Kubernetes service is not the only option available on Azure. There are many others you want to know about before making any decisions. In this post, we will discuss various Azure container options to help you make an informed decision.
Azure Service Fabric
Azure Service Fabric provides a distributed systems platform designed to simplify container deployment, management, packaging, and other microservices. It offers multiple features that help manage and develop cloud-native applications. Azure Service Fabric can help you create stateful services as it offers programming models that allow you to use any language or code to run your stateful services. You can also create a Service Fabric Cluster anywhere, including the Window server, Linux, Azure Cloud, and other public cloud environments. Service Fabric allows you to run microservices across numerous computing resources in Azure. With a defined service, you can easily deploy applications at scale with hundreds or thousands of containers or applications per machine.
Azure Container Instances (ACI)
Azure Container Instances or ACI is an alternative to running virtual machines that allows you to run both Linux and Windows containers without requiring provision or managing the underlying infrastructure. With Azure container instances, you only need to define how many resources you’ll need, where your container image is, which ports you need, and the environmental variables you need. What’s more special about the Azure container instances is that you only pay for the time the container runs.
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
The Azure Kubernetes Service or AKS offers a fully managed container orchestrator in the Azure cloud. It supports direct access to the Kubernetes API and runs any Kubernetes workload. The entire cluster remains in your subscription, with the cluster operations and configurations within your responsibility and control. AKS was originally designed by Google and currently offers many features and capabilities. However, it is more complicated compared to other Azure options, as it requires a steep learning curve and complex management requirements. AKS helps organizations manage critical container-based applications and functionalities, including management, deployment, and scaling.
Azure Red Hat OpenShift
The Azure Red Hat Openshift is operated, engineered, and supported by Microsoft and Red Hat to provide an integrated product and support experience for running Kubernetes-powered Openshift. You can choose your own registry, storage, networking, and CI/CD solutions or use the built-in solutions for automated container and application builds, code management, scaling, deployments, health management, and more. This enables smooth operations for IT teams while providing applications teams with reliable tooling. No patching or virtual machines are required as these are monitored for you by Red Hat and Microsoft.
Azure Web App Service
The Azure Web App service was one of the first services launched by Azure. It allows you to build serverless microservices based on containers. However, the options for running applications are quite limited, and that’s why Azure allows you to continue using WebApps features like scaling, backups, or deployment slots. You can use the Dockerfile to define the platform and dependencies of your applications. If you need to use more than one container, you can configure the service to run with other containers.
Azure Spring Cloud
Azure Spring Cloud is designed to deploy Spring Boot microservice to Azure without making any code changes. This service is critical in managing the infrastructure of Spring Cloud applications so that developers can focus on their code. The Spring Cloud offers lifecycle management using configuration management, comprehensive monitoring and diagnostics, CI/CD integration, Service discovery, blue-green deployments, etc.
The Azure Functions is a serverless service optimized for running event-driven applications using programming models. It is similar to Azure Container Apps as they share similar characteristics around integration and scale. The Azure Functions offer productivity benefits for companies looking to trigger the execution of various functions and bind to other data sources. If you’re building serverless functions-as-a-service (FaaS) functions, Azure Functions is the perfect option. The programming model is portable as it is available as a base container image. That means teams can reuse code as environmental requirements shift.
Azure Container Registry
This service doesn’t run for containers. Its main function is to store your container images privately, making it quite crucial for many companies. It has features such as replication for storage redundancy and backup. You can create and test your images and, most importantly, configure the registry to integrate AD, scan, and sign images to find vulnerabilities. The Azure Container Registry is a private Docker registry that allows you to pull images from your private registry to deployment targets such as scalable orchestration systems like Kubernetes and other Azure services that allow you to run and build applications at scale. To manage ACR, you can use several native tools, such as the Azure portal, the API support, and the Command-Line Interface.