If you've been dying to try out Microsoft's Azure Container Service, your wait is over. Microsoft issued a public preview Wednesday.
The service provides open source tools support for managing clusters of virtual machines that host containerized applications. Right now, the Azure Container Service only supports Linux containers. Microsoft plans to support Windows Server Containers in a future update.
The Azure Container Service preview was built in collaboration with Microsoft's partners, Docker Inc. and Mesosphere. The service supports those partners' scheduling and orchestration tools, such as Docker Compose or Mesosphere's Datacenter Operating System. Microsoft's Azure Container Service provides an API that those tools can use. Alternatively, any software capable of leveraging the API can be used, per Microsoft's announcement.
Microsoft provides Azure Resource Manager templates for the Azure Container Service that can be used with Apache Mesos (an open source container scheduling and orchestration service) and Docker Swarm (an open source clustering tool). Microsoft supports both of these open source tools because they are "popular among our customers today," per the announcement. The Azure Resource Manager is currently Microsoft's leading-edge tool for managing virtual machines on Azure, although its older Azure Service Manager tool also can be used.
Microsoft's video accompanying the announcement described the Azure Container Service as being used by developers for dev-test purposes. It can help when checking in code during builds. It's possible to use the open source Jenkins solution as a continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) server for code builds using the Azure Container Service, according to the video.
Right now, to try out the Azure Container Service preview, users have to "self-nominate" themselves. That's done by filling out this 10-question online survey. Users also need an Azure account to test it, which can be the free trial version. Microsoft plans to broaden access to the preview sometime in "early 2016."