Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes preview and new ecosystem partners

Posted on 20 May, 2020

Partner Director, Azure Management

In November 2019, we announced the preview of Azure Arc, a set of technologies that unlocks new hybrid scenarios for customers by bringing Azure services and management to any infrastructure across datacenters, edge, and multi-cloud. Based on the feedback and excitement of all the customers in the private preview, we are able to deliver Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes in preview to our customers. With this, anyone can use Azure Arc to connect and configure any Kubernetes cluster across customer datacenters, edge locations, and multi-cloud.

Over the last few months through private preview, organizations across a wide range of industries have experienced the power of Azure Arc for Kubernetes. Retail customers are deploying applications and configurations across their branch locations with guaranteed consistency. Financial institutions and healthcare providers are using Azure Arc to manage Kubernetes instances in geographic regions with custom data sovereignty requirements. Across several application scenarios and deployment environments, customers are embracing the diversity of the Kubernetes ecosystem. Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes is uniquely positioned through its openness and flexibility to help our customers meet their business challenges using the tools of their choice.

With today’s preview of Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes, support for most CNCF-certified Kubernetes distributions works out of the box. In addition, we are also announcing our first set of Azure Arc integration partners, including Red Hat OpenShift, Canonical Kubernetes, and Rancher Labs to ensure Azure Arc works great for all the key platforms our customers are using today.

Benefits of Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes

Application delivery is an inherently collaborative activity, especially as customers adopt DevOps practices. Developers, system operators, infrastructure engineers, and database administrators each play an active role in developing, deploying, and managing applications across multiple environments. To do this efficiently, customers have a need for shared application and infrastructure lifecycle management for teams that are siloed, based on locations and skills. In uncertain times, like we’re going through today, it’s even more important to ensure that your organization has visibility and oversight so you can go fast, safely.

Developers creating modern applications are adopting Kubernetes to spend more time focused on the application and less on the infrastructure. There is a rich Kubernetes ecosystem ranging from off-the-shelf Helm charts to developer tooling to use. Using your existing DevOps pipelines, Kubernetes manifests, and Helm charts, Azure Arc enables deployment to any connected cluster at scale. Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes adopts a GitOps methodology, so customers define their applications and cluster configuration in source control. This means changes to apps and configuration are versioned, enforced, and logged across any number of clusters.

Azure Arc helps you inventory, organize, and control different Kubernetes clusters running anywhere from Azure at scale.

Azure Arc provides a single pane of glass operating model to customers for all their Kubernetes clusters deployed across multiple locations. It brings Azure management to the clusters—unlocking Azure capabilities like Azure Policy, Azure Monitor, and Azure Resource Graph. 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.

Azure Arc provides a range of capabilities for managing servers, Kubernetes, and Azure data services across clouds, datacenters, and edge locations.

Inventory and organization: Work more efficiently by getting control over sprawling resources at organizational, team, and personal levels.

  • Bring all your resources into a single system so you can organize and inventory through a variety of Azure scopes, such as Management groups, Subscriptions, and Resource Groups.
  • Create, apply, and enforce standardized and custom tags to keep track of resources.
  • Build powerful queries and search your global portfolio with Azure Resource Graph.

Governance and configuration: Streamline activities by creating, applying, and enforcing policies to Kubernetes apps, data, and infrastructure anywhere.

  • Set guardrails across all your resources with Azure Policy to ensure consistent configurations to a single cluster, or to many at scale by leveraging inheritance capabilities.
  • Standardize role-based access control (RBAC) across systems and different types of resources.
  • Automate and delegate remediation of incidents and problems to service teams without IT intervention.
  • Enforce run-time conformance and audit resources with Azure Policy.

Integrated DevOps and management capabilities: Mix and match additional Azure services or your choice of tools.

  • Integrated with GitHub, Azure Monitor, Security Center, Update, and more.
  • Common templating for automating configuration and infrastructure as code provide repeatable deployments.
  • End-to-end identity for users and resources with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Azure Resource Manager.

Unified tools and experiences: Create a shared application and infrastructure lifecycle experience for teams that have traditionally been siloed based on locations, skills, and job descriptions.

  • Simplify your work with a unified and consistent view of your resources across datacenters, edge locations, and multi-cloud through the Azure portal and APIs.
  • Connect Kubernetes version of your choice from the ecosystem and work with them alongside Windows and Linux virtual machines (VMs), physical servers, and Azure data services.
  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities for team members with clear separation of concerns without sacrificing visibility and access.

How our integration partners leverage Azure Arc

“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.” Mike Evans, Vice President, Technical Business Development, Red Hat OpenShift

“Canonical's Charmed Kubernetes enables enterprises to accelerate the development of a new generation of applications while benefiting from fully automated architecture and operations. By integrating Azure Arc, Charmed Kubernetes clusters can now be managed across any infrastructure, alongside Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) deployments, fitting coherently into an organization’s wider IT estate. This integration provides enterprises with a single, unified place to visualize, govern and manage their environments at scale, from edge to cloud.” —Christian Reis, VP Public Cloud, Canonical Kubernetes

“Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE) on Microsoft Azure is a proven platform that provides amazing capabilities for cloud computing. By extending Azure to RKE anywhere with Azure Arc, Rancher Labs and Microsoft are poised to accelerate the development of a new generation of applications for the enterprise by bringing expanding and evolving IT estates under control.” —Sheng Liang, CEO, Rancher Labs

With Azure Arc, customers can connect and configure Kubernetes clusters and deploy modern applications at scale. Azure Arc also allows customers to run Azure data services on these Kubernetes clusters. In addition, the reality is that many customers have applications running on Windows and Linux servers. Azure Arc allows the management of servers as well, all from the same unified single-pane-of-glass experience. Going forward, the next Azure Arc preview will bring Azure data services, such as Azure Arc enabled SQL Managed Instance and Azure Arc enabled PostgreSQL Hyperscale, to Kubernetes clusters—taking advantage of always current, cloud-native services in the location they need.

We’ll continue to announce new capabilities and new previews for Azure Arc. We’d love to get your feedback and help shaping the upcoming capabilities as we go. To reach us, go to our UserVoice site.

Get started with Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes

To learn more about enabling Kubernetes clusters with Azure Arc, get started with the preview today