Containerization is an important cloud computing development to more seamlessly build, test, deploy, and manage cloud applications. Containers also introduced many of our customers to new technologies including Docker, Windows containers, orchestration, and microservices. Today, we’re excited to announce the general availability of Windows Server container support in the Azure Kubernetes Service.

Many of our customers are building new microservice inspired applications using the latest design patterns, yet often their core business functions run on applications developed before Kubernetes was even a project. The past months have presented new challenges and opportunities for many of us, some customers are experiencing unprecedented demand on their services while others are looking for ways to consolidate workloads and reduce costs in order to save jobs. We have partnered with customers to help them address both challenges using Windows Server containers in our Azure Kubernetes Service. Often customers can consolidate multiple workloads onto the same node improving density while also increasing uptime and availability. When demand increases, it’s easy to scale up the services and nodes to meet the real-time needs of the business.

Woolworths (Woolies) is a leading innovator in the Australian supermarket and grocery industry that has experienced these benefits firsthand during the global health pandemic as Nick Eshkenazi, Chief Digital Technology Officer, says:

“As demand for our eCommerce services has soared in the wake of the global health crisis, we’ve had to scale our online capability incredibly fast. Traffic to our website has doubled and our app use is up more than 320 percent. 

With Azure Kubernetes Service we have been able to remove some of the manual steps previously required in our releases – speeding the process up and increasing the reliability of our delivery.

Together with Microsoft, we’ve been able to keep our site and app readily available for our customers at a critical time, and avoided the digital queuing many other retailers have had to implement.“

In the last five years, we have made significant progress with Azure Kubernetes. Today we are up to version 1.18 and since then over 70,000 changes have been merged into the project. We also had to work through key customer workflows in AKS, enabling multiple node pools and different patching and update models, and we continue to make improvements within the community and the service to make running applications based on Linux or Windows easier and more reliable. For example, in Kubernetes version 1.17, runtime class support supplants the need to use complex and often error-prone taints and tolerations to ensure Windows Server containers land only on Windows Server hosts. In Kubernetes version 1.19, we intend to expand this feature to improve version compatibility and isolation using Hyper-V isolated containers.

We know many of you have been waiting for Windows Server containers in AKS to become generally available so you can move into production—we’re very excited to hear your success stories in the coming days and weeks, and for customers still evaluating your path to containers, this is a great time to get started. In either case, please leave us your feedback here.

To learn more about recent advancements in Kubernetes version 1.18, specifically for AKS, read this blog post. Lastly, we would like to take the moment to thank every contributor and customer, without whom, today’s announcement wouldn’t be possible. We’re proud to be part of the broader and vibrant Kubernetes community.