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Microsoft acquisition of Deis paves road to Kubernetes for Windows

Microsoft nabbed a small Kubernetes development company that could play a big part to make Kubernetes for Windows ready for prime time.

Microsoft shops hope to see stronger development of Kubernetes for Windows after a Microsoft acquisition this week.

Microsoft said it will acquire Deis from platform-as-a-service player Engine Yard this Monday for an undisclosed sum. The company's developers are key contributors to Kubernetes projects Workflow, Steward and Helm.

The acquisition, which comes about a month after Microsoft pledged to support Kubernetes on Azure, illustrates Kubernetes' increased market momentum -- and backing from large enterprise IT shops and vendors of late.

"A lot of companies use [Kubernetes], so you feel like you could get all the resources you need to use it," said Marc Priolo, configuration manager at Urban Science, a Detroit-based data analysis company that specializes in the automotive industry. "As a Microsoft shop, our first choice for containers [is Azure], and marrying it with Kubernetes would be a really interesting thing."

Deis' technical expertise will boost Microsoft's container services, including Linux and Windows Server Containers, Hyper-V Containers and Azure Container Service, according to a company blog post. Microsoft also plans to offer container services that work with any OS and tool set. But Kubernetes for Windows, introduced in alpha in Kubernetes 1.5, still has significant kinks to work out to translate concepts from the Linux world to Windows environments.

Kubernetes for Windows has finite window of opportunity

Many enterprises, including Microsoft shops, are still in the testing phase with containers, so Microsoft has time to get Windows and Kubernetes to work together. Microsoft has also reversed its stance on open source software in recent years, a change which has more shops considering Linux at the same time.

"Most companies on the Windows side will probably pad their development release cycles to see how Kubernetes matures," Priolo said.

Most Windows shops aren't used to setting up Linux, which can be a complicated process. Eventually, however, the lag in adding features for typical Windows software packages will undermine its ease of use as a reason to wait.

"Windows keeps falling further behind the curve in newer technologies," Priolo said. "The trend is starting to slowly go toward more companies entertaining Linux-related [approaches] due to the slow adoption of Windows for things like Kubernetes."

Azure Container Registry goes GA

The Azure Container Registry became generally available late last week. This is mainly a table-stakes feature, said Gary Chen, analyst at IDC, but it's still important to make modern containers work. Docker, Amazon and Google offer their own versions of a container registry.

"It's a key technology, like an app store for an ecosystem," Chen said. "It will allow Windows customers to have access to a hosted container registry, and allow Azure more access to the Microsoft install base."

Deis ties in with Azure hybrid cloud strategy

Microsoft also has a significant customer base, which could translate into customers for its cloud container offerings. And, because Windows tools work in both on-premises data centers and Azure public cloud, Microsoft could gain the upper hand on hybrid cloud deployments.

Here, analysts see a potential use for Deis in addition to Kubernetes for Windows.

"Microsoft could be looking to produce a version of the Kubernetes software for on-premises deployment with Azure Stack," said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC, referring to a yet-to-be-released on-premises infrastructure package for Azure.

Deis isn't focused right now on Kubernetes for Windows, but Workflow, Steward and Helm all include multicloud management features, Chen said. Steward is a multicloud services broker for Kubernetes, while Workflow and Helm enable app deployment and management across various infrastructures.

"With the influence Deis has in the Kubernetes community, I'm sure it will accelerate support for Windows," Chen said. "But that's going to take some time."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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