I am proud to announce the general availability of Azure Container Instances (ACI) – a serverless way to run both Linux and Windows containers. ACI offers you an on-demand compute service delivering rapid deployment of containers with no VM management and automatic, elastic scale. When we released the preview last summer of ACI, it was the first-of-its-kind and fundamentally changed the landscape of container technology. It was the first service to deliver innovative serverless containers in the public cloud. As part of today’s announcement, I am also excited to announce new lower pricing, making it even less expensive to deploy a single container in the cloud. ACI also continues to be the fastest cloud-native option for customers in the cloud, getting you compute in mere seconds that also provide rich features like interactive terminals within running containers and an integrated Azure portal experience.
In addition to the ease-of-use and granular billing available with ACI, customers are choosing ACI as their serverless container solution because of its deep security model, protecting each individual container at a hyper-visor level which provides a strong security boundary for multi-tenant scenarios. It can sometimes be a challenge to secure multi-tenant workloads running inside containers on the same virtual machine. Enabling this isolation without requiring you to create a hosting cluster is unique from other clouds and is a true cloud native model.
Jedox AG, a customer providing business intelligence solutions for systematic data analysis, is using ACI to sandbox customer trials and demos for their marketplace of SaaS solutions. You can hear more from Jedox on their use of ACI in the newly published case study.
Today, we see customers using ACI across a wide spectrum of scenarios including batch processing, continuous integration, and event-driven computing. We hear consistently from customers that ACI is uniquely suited to handle their burst workloads. ACI supports quick, cleanly packaged burst compute that removes the overhead of managing cluster machines. Some of our largest customers are also using ACI for data processing where source data is ingested, processed, and placed in a durable store such as Azure Blob Storage. ACI enables each stage of work to be efficiently packaged as a container assigned with custom resource definitions for agile development, testing, and deployment. By processing the data with ACI rather than statically provisioned virtual machines, you can achieve significant cost savings due to ACI’s granular per-second billing.
To make ACI even more compelling for these workloads, along with our general availability I am thrilled to announce new, lower prices, including making initial creation free. The following table* summarizes the new Azure Container Instances pricing structure. For detailed information, please visit the pricing page. Note that the new pricing is effective starting July 1, 2018.
|New prices (US West)||Old price (Global)|
|Create fee||None||$0.0025 per Instance created|
|vCPU per second||$0.000012||$0.0000125|
|Memory (GB) per second||$0.000004||$0.0000125|
When we first launched ACI, we also created an experimental version of the ACI Connector for Kubernetes. It provided the benefits of ACI’s per-second billing and zero infrastructure execution via the portable Kubernetes API. At KubeCon last December we announced the Virtual Kubelet, an open source project designed to bridge Kubernetes with limitless and serverless container offerings similar to ACI. Since the announcement of Virtual Kubelet, the project has gained momentum in the Kubernetes community and we now have multiple providers, including VMware, AWS and Hyper.sh, collaborating closely with us.
We have been so excited about this new compute offering since preview, and we have listened to your feedback to shape several important new features including:
- Improved Azure portal experience with metrics, alerts, and container logs/events.
- Execute (EXEC) a command directly in your container to launch an interactive shell.
- Monitor CPU and memory utilization of Linux containers through Azure Monitor.
- Configure a reliable endpoint per container by placing a DNS name label through the REST API or Azure CLI 2.0.
- Stream container logs with Azure CLI 2.0: Read your container state and log output by attaching to your container from Azure CLI 2.0.
- Container restart policies: Designate containers to always restart, restart only on failure, or never restart.
- Various volume types for Linux containers including Azure Files, gitRepo, emptyDir, and secret.
- Availability across 6 regions including West US, West US 2, East US, West Europe, North Europe, and Southeast Asia.
- Uptime SLA of 99.9% for any Container Group.
ACI is a transformative way of using containers in the public cloud. With this service, Azure introduced a new compute primitive that combines the flexibility and security of virtual machines with the speed and simplicity of containers – all powered by Azure’s global cloud. With Virtual Kubelet support, ACI also realizes the vision of a “serverless Kubernetes.”
Go ahead and give it a try and provide us your feedback.
*Please refer to the pricing page for the most up-to-date information on product pricing.