DevOps with Azure Container Service

DevOps with Azure Container Service

Containers refer to a software package that provides an environment wherein all components required to run an application are available. It can be understood as a framework, which includes system libraries, system dependencies, and various other configuration files needed to run an application. For instance, there are situations where an application is transferred from one computing environment to another, say, development to the testing environment or one cloud platform to another. Each environment has a different configuration, be it network topology, security policies, or various other factors. This challenge is overcome by containers that break the boundaries between an application and the environment in which it must be executed.

Containers thus reduce the overhead of changing infrastructure configurations, every time a new software has to be run. These act as a bridge between an application and the environment in which it must be operated.

Containers are available for Linux and Windows operating systems.

Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS)

When we refer to a container, the discussion must ideally include mentions about the types of services it offers to the end-users. CaaS refers to the cloud computing model, similar to Saas, PaaS, IaaS. CaaS is provided by various cloud service providers such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft. The most popular ones are -

  • Google Container Engine
  • Amazon EC2 container service
  • Microsoft Azure Container Service

In this article, we focus our discussion on Microsoft Azure Container Service and how it delivers business objectives with DevOps in parallel.

Microsoft Azure Container Service

The cloud-based model, for container management and deployment, is provided by Microsoft. Azure container services (ACS) are scalable to run as many containers and help manage the underlying infrastructure by automatically configuring Virtual Machines and clusters. The Azure services offer support for any open-source tool and technologies available for containers.

Let us look into the types of Azure containers:

  • Azure Container Registry - this component facilitates the creation of container images and artifacts, which can further be stored, scanned, and fully managed through geo-replicated instances of OCI (Open Container Initiative). The Azure container registry can be connected across different environments, such as Azure Red Hat OpenShift, and also across Azure services such as App Service, Machine Learning, and Batch. This feature is quite useful as it offers the following benefits:
    • Access to container image repository from any part of the globe.
    • The artifact repository can be used for adding Helm charts and also other OCI artifact-supported formats.
    • Automated building and patching, which includes task scheduling, image updates.
    • Azure Active Directory offers security in the form of role-based authentication.
  • Azure Web apps - Apps for Windows and Linux are available, which enables easy deployment and execution of containerized applications. Now, users of Azure container services can easily deploy containerized apps, with customized dependencies, in much less time. It has scaling rules that handle automatic handling of peak workloads, deploy data, and host services across locations, in a few simple steps. The web apps offer insights into performance parameters, such as memory utilization, response time, and so on.
  • Azure Kubernetes Services - These services are quite helpful in managing the Kubernetes cluster in an Azure environment, with the least complexity and operational overheads. Azure Kubernetes services aid in critical tasks such as health monitoring. With Kubernetes Cluster within Azure, the user has to pay for only the nodes (there are master nodes and agent nodes) they are using within a cluster. When the Azure Kubernetes Services cluster is deployed, Kubernetes master and agent nodes are deployed and configured automatically.

    NOTE: Kubernetes is an open-source platform that facilitates the management of containerized workloads and services.

  • Azure container Instances - With container instances, developers can simply build and deploy their applications without worrying too much about infrastructural performance. Container instances (CI) offer the following benefits -
    • When there is much workload, Azure CI offers additional computing capacity to handle peaks.
    • A secured environment for each container group to run in isolation, without sharing kernel.
    • The event-driven mechanism to support complex tasks. With Azure CI, one simply needs to define the location of the container image, the set of resources required, or what all environment variables are needed.

  • Azure Batch - Azure allows tasks to run in batches, from a batch pool. Batch tasks can be executed on virtual machines and also can be set up in Docker compatible containers on the nodes. Users of Azure Batch can create a pool of virtual machine compute nodes, with the supported container images for Windows and Linux, for container workloads.
  • Azure Service Fabric - An efficient container that helps in building scalable and distributed applications. Developers can run any type of application, in any language, on-premise, or other cloud platforms. Service Fabric for Azure is an open-source project, which supports Azure along with Microsoft services such as Skype (for Business), Intune, Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB, Dynamic 365, and Cortana. Azure Service Fabric is a fully managed microservices platform that can be integrated with other cloud platforms as well, other on-premise clouds.

DevOps with Azure Container Services

So far, we have understood that the container services enable us to create an environment that can seamlessly perform the desired activities. DevOps is simply an approach towards continuous integration and deployment, by collaborating resources such as development and operations teams, with an endeavor to focus on faster integration and development of the latest features and deploying the same within time.

A cloud-based model, such as the CaaS, as discussed above, is one such methodology that provides solutions in terms of tools and techniques to build, test, and deploy applications with quality, speed, and in a controlled (measurable) environment. The benefits of using DevOps with container services provided by Azure and similar entities is an attempt to scale up the production environment and eliminate the barriers that require manual interventions.

We summarize DevOps in the context of Container Services, by listing the following benefits:

  • By incorporating containers, microservices, and similar tools and techniques, an organization can definitely benefit in terms of reduced cost and complexity. Adopting DevOps agile practices makes the entire process faster as the steps to accomplish a task are completely automated.
  • With CaaS tools, users can derive insights into the performance of their applications, monitor and manage the health of the overall system.
  • The freedom to integrate container services with other cloud models, apart from on-premise, is also an added advantage and removes dependencies.


DevOps is a practice that is followed in almost all organizations to meet the ever-changing market trends. There is, thus, a need to scale up the resources to support the dynamic nature of workload that may come in, at different points in time. Adoption of a Container Service, thus, largely depends on the scale of operations and the extent to which different environments could be required for running applications, have to be given a thoughtful consideration.