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Each day more and more organizations experience the benefits of cloud native development. Using products like Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), they’re able to build distributed applications that are more resilient and dynamically scalable, while enabling portability in the cloud and at the edge. Most of all, organizations want to use Kubernetes and cloud native technology to innovate faster in the enterprise where security, governance, and compliance are top of mind. We have been listening and we are happy to share several innovations designed to accelerate cloud native application delivery on Azure, powered by Kubernetes and AKS.

Streamlined developer experience

Git and GitHub have changed the way modern software is written. Pull requests (PRs) are now central to the how development teams collaborate. While PRs are a great way to review specific code changes, it can be difficult to see how that code integrates with the rest of a complex microservices architecture. Dev Spaces with GitHub Actions PR flow for AKS solves this problem by automatically deploying review versions of your pull requests to a sandbox environment where you can easily perform end-to-end testing on any changes in your pull request branch. This speeds the PR testing process, allows team members to confidently approve pull requests after ensuring that the new changes will not negatively impact other parts of the application. It also enables other team members, such as product managers and designers, to easily participate in the review process. 

Dev Spaces connect, available in preview, allows developers to develop and test an individual service on their local workstation in the context of the broader application running in a shared AKS cluster, all without affecting other processes running in that cluster. With tools like Dev Spaces and Visual Studio Code Kubernetes extension, we help customers accelerate their containerized app development. It’s great to see a leading firm like Forrester state in a recent report that Microsoft  “leads the pack with the strongest developer experience and global reach.”1

Reliable and scalable Kubernetes clusters

As enterprises continue to adopt Kubernetes and AKS at an incredible rate, we see an increasing number of mission-critical customer workloads that have strenuous requirements around reliability and scalability. AKS support for availability zones, cluster-level autoscaling, and multiple node pool support are now generally available. As Bosch has shared, Azure provides a simplified Kubernetes experience and helps you deliver reliable and scalable service more easily. It’s click and scale, or better yet, scale automatically using the autoscaling functionality in AKS.

For customers who need to operate across the globe, AKS is also now available in 36 regions including Germany West Central, Switzerland North, Switzerland West and UAE North, more regions of managed Kubernetes than any other cloud.

Operate seamlessly on-premises, in the cloud, and at the edge

The use of Kubernetes is growing everywhere. It’s growing in the cloud with products like AKS, but it’s also growing beyond cloud with clusters sprouting up on-premises and on the edge. To help our customers manage and govern these environments, we are introducing Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes clusters. By installing an agent on your Kubernetes cluster, you can now register your Kubernetes clusters in Azure no matter where they are running and provide a unified management and governance model, including centralized policy controls, role-based access control (RBAC), and configuration management through a simple GitOps workflow. This means you can use a simple GitHub pull request flow to securely deploy workloads to hundreds or thousands of Kubernetes clusters, all managed from the Azure portal.

Looking for a way to get a Microsoft-supported version of Kubernetes running on premises, on the edge, or even in a fully disconnected environment? Microsoft offers Kubernetes across our Azure Stack Hub portfolio of products. Kubernetes on Azure Stack Hub is now generally available featuring cluster lifecycle management capabilities. You can now easily provision Kubernetes clusters on Azure Stack Hub and automate the creation, update, patching, scaling and deletion of these clusters using simple command line tools. We are also introducing Kubernetes on Azure Stack Edge, which is an Azure-managed edge computing appliance with either FPGA or new GPA acceleration for powerful machine learning inferencing capabilities. Azure Stack Edge simplifies Kubernetes operations by automatically creating a cluster of appliances and connecting it to the cloud for you, where you can use Azure Arc to deploy and configure applications across all your Kubernetes clusters.

Easily monitor and troubleshoot

Kubernetes and cloud native systems have many moving parts. Managing these systems at scale requires top notch monitoring and observability tools. One such tool is Prometheus, a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project which has emerged as the standard mechanism for gathering metrics in the cloud native ecosystem. Prometheus integration with Azure Monitor is now generally available. Azure Monitor can now scrape your Prometheus metrics and store them on your behalf, without you having to operate your own Prometheus collection and storage infrastructure. We have Grafana templates so you can visualize the performance data from AKS. Today we are also introducing live container metrics from Azure Monitor. Live metrics and deployments, combined with live logs and events capabilities, provide a real-time view of what’s happening in AKS clusters and deployments, helping to diagnose and resolve issues faster than ever. Check out how Hafslund Nett has leveraged Azure Monitor together with AKS to speed development and testing without losing control over security and performance.

A secure, enterprise-grade foundation

Kubernetes and cloud native models can be challenging to secure and govern. This is especially true for container images, which can house new classes of operating system and library vulnerabilities. To address it, Azure Security Center performs vulnerability assessments on container images stored in Azure Container Registry. It can now scan the container registries within a customer’s subscription and provide recommendations to address specific vulnerabilities. We are also introducing a new set of threat protection features from Azure Security Center including discovery of AKS clusters in your cloud environment, actionable recommendations on how to help your clusters comply with security best practices, and threat detection based on host and cluster analytics.

The cloud-native space continues to evolve rapidly, with new technologies and patterns emerging every day. The pace of innovation is exciting, but it can also be frightening especially for more conservative enterprises. With these innovations, we are further lowering the barriers to adopt cloud-native technologies. If you are new to Kubernetes, check out Kubernetes overview, learning videos and workshop.  Kubernetes is defining the future of applications. Join thousands of Azure Kubernetes customers and start your Kubernetes journey with Azure.

Azure. Invent with purpose.

1. The Forrester New Wave™: Public Cloud Enterprise Container Platforms, Q3 2019.

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