Microsoft Announces Azure Container Instances

Microsoft has announced a new Azure service, Azure Container Instances, that offers simplicity and speed while deploying the containers, and users have no need to manage a Virtual Machine infrastructure. The company claims that ACIs are the fastest and easiest way to run a container in the cloud.
 
Azure division's director of compute, Corey Sanders defines ACI in the official announcement,
 
“ An Azure Container Instance is a single container that starts in seconds and is billed by the second. ACI offer highly versatile sizing, allowing you to select the exact amount of memory separate from the exact count of vCPUs, so your application perfectly fits on the infrastructure. Your containers won’t be billed for a second longer than is required and won’t use a GB more than is needed. With ACI, containers are a first-class object of the Azure platform, offering Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) on the instance and billing tags to track usage at the individual container level. As the service directly exposes containers, there is no VM management you need to think about or higher-level cluster orchestration concepts to learn. It is simply your code, in a container, running in the cloud.
 
For those beginning their container journey, Azure Container Instances provide a simple experience to get started with containers in the cloud, enabling you to quickly create and deploy new containers with only a few simple parameters. Here is a sample CLI command that will deploy to ACI through Azure Cloud Shell."
  1. az container create -g aci_grp --name nginx --image library/nginx --ip-address public  
and if you want to control the exact GB of memory and CPU count:
  1. az container create -g aci_grp --name nginx --image library/nginx --ip-address public –cpu 2 --memory 5  
Howevever, the ACIs are available in public preview for Linux containers, as of now but the company is working to bring Windows Container Support also in the coming weeks. ACIs can be deployed either via Azure CLI or by using a Template. The company gives an alternative way of deploying - from a public repository, like Docker Hub, or pull from your own private repository using the Azure Container Registry.
 
The company has further announced ACI Connectors in support of the ACIs. As per the official blog post,
 
“As part of today’s announcement, we are also releasing in open source, the ACI Connector for Kubernetes. This is an open-source connector that enables Kubernetes clusters to deploy to Azure Container Instances. This enables on-demand and nearly instantaneous container compute, orchestrated by Kubernetes, without having VM infrastructure to manage and while still leveraging the portable Kubernetes API. This will allow you to utilize both VMs and container instances simultaneously in the same K8s cluster, giving you the best of both worlds."
 
You can go through the quickstart guide to learn more about ACIs and to know how to create your first container in Azure Container Instances.