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Microsoft Azure Catches Up With Container NetworkingMicrosoft Azure Catches Up With Container Networking

One by one, SDN and network virtualization schemes have adapted to include containers. At ONS yesterday, it was Microsoft Azure's turn.

Craig Matsumoto

April 4, 2017

2 Min Read
Microsoft Azure Catches Up With Container Networking

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Microsoft Azure cloud is adding container support to its networking, combining container and virtual machine (VM) into what the company is calling a "single-click" model for software-defined networking (SDN).

The goal is to put everything into "one SDN," said Corporate Vice President Albert Greenberg during his Monday afternoon keynote at the Open Networking Summit. "Everything that works for VMs, the same code, will work for containers."

In a sense, Azure VNet for Containers puts Azure on par with other network virtualization options, such as NSX from VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) or ACI from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Both create temporary connections between virtualized network elements -- which initially meant virtual machines. But both platforms work with containers as well.

It also means Azure doesn't appear to need help from the startups, such as Weaveworks, that are specializing in container networking.

Rather than use any of these products, Microsoft wrote its own SDN code for Azure. It created virtual networks -- hence the term VNet -- between virtual machines, and now it does the same between containers. What's really happening is that VNet is acting as a conduit layer between containers and a container orchestration system -- either Kubernetes or Mesosphere 's DC/OS.

Figure 1: (Source: Steve Gibson, Airlie Beach, Australia [shipping containers] [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons) (Source: Steve Gibson, Airlie Beach, Australia [shipping containers] [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

But why should users be happy about having to use Microsoft's own networking scheme? Greenberg laid out an argument during his talk. A common method of virtualization involves creating a tunnel between the two endpoints, using a protocol called VXLAN. It's done by encapsulating the packet -- and that encapsulation can hurt performance, he said.

Azure VNet for Containers is in public preview -- meaning it's not quite a full-blown production offering yet -- and the code is available in open source form on GitHub.

— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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