What to know about Microsoft Azure Containers

Businesses all over the world have been embracing the cloud for a long time now. Migrating workloads to the cloud — and the security fears, concerns, and stability issues — that come with that territory occasionally make those businesses feel a bit on edge.
Microsoft Azure containers
The mere thought of any server downtime or a breach can send chills down the spine of any respectable business leader or IT department. Building a robust, powerful, and secure cloud architecture is necessary to avoid any potential pitfalls or problems. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are two of the most popular cloud providers today.

Microsoft Azure — one of the leading cloud solutions in the world — is a useful, exciting, and powerful platform that can help businesses build their cloud architecture. Working and storing data in the cloud is an integral part of just about every business today — as essential as whole life insurance and balancing the budget properly in your everyday life. But how can Microsoft Azure help you? Here’s a short guide to what to know about Azure and one of its most essential features: containers. Check it out below.

Microsoft Azure At A Glance

Azure offers several types of cloud architecture your company can use. Through its Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, Microsoft handles all the computing you need and uses its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model to handle your company’s needs. Both methods are secure and easy to manage. Software as a Service (SaaS) model is used extensively throughout Microsoft products (think Office 365 for a good example) and Azure is no different. Azure offers all three models. Under its SaaS model, organizations can access data from anywhere, use paid or free versions of the client software, and open up plenty of access to their applications from anywhere. Azure is easy to use, cost-effective and makes it much easier to recover from security issues. They also offer many of the following features:

Virtual machines

SQL databases

Application Services

Storage

Workload Flexibility

Diagnostics

Error Logs

Crash Dumps

Log Metrics

Containers

Microsoft’s azure containers are one of the most important parts of using the service.

What Are Containers?

Containers are merely standard software packages. Instead of being a type of hardware or operating system, a container is essentially a software environment. It runs the application’s code using a preloaded image. It’s similar to a virtual machine but has some key differences. Instead of running at the hardware level and being used to run multiple instances of an OS, the container shares its host’s OS. While doing so, it runs isolated processes. This essentially separates any container instances you have running from one another, effectively enabling a method of running multiple processes—across several unique isolated environments — all at once. Each container has several layers that enable it to function. There’s the OS layer, other layers to support applications, and the final layer that reads/writes everything.

Are Containers Virtual Machines?

The short answer is technically no, but that’s not even close to the whole story. The longer answer is kind of, but they’re much more powerful. There is a considerable, very unique difference however. Virtual machines run an entire OS while containers are more isolated. Containers run the user mode version of the operating system while containers run the entire thing. Containers need to be deployed using Docker while virtual typically uses the powershell. Virtual machines use Virtual hard disks while containers need to use Azure disks. There are plenty of other differences, but both offer valuable tools and services that you can use at your organization.

How To Use Containers At Your Organization

Using containers is remarkably simple. All you have to do is deploy it within Microsoft Azure. Start by creating the container instance (using a predefined image or a private azure container registry), defining its parameters, and label it with a DNS name. After that, review and create it. You’ll need an Azure resource group to make your containers. Running and monitoring containers is pretty easy, but may come with a bit of a learning curve at first, so be sure to use available resources and tutorials to get the most out of your azure containers.

Protecting Your Azure Container Instances

Anytime you’re working with the cloud, security is paramount to everything you do.

When it comes to protecting azure container instances, there are a few things to keep in mind. A lot of it comes down to configuring your security using a variety of tools and logs. The standard security procedures still apply here. Always a private registry, secure your passwords, limit access to the containers themselves. Check regularly for vulnerabilities and potential threats, while constantly monitoring / maintaining your containers. Map these vulnerabilities and construct an action plan to react in the case of one of them being explained. With just a little bit of security, you can keep using and leveraging your Microsoft Azure containers to accomplish all of your organizational goals.

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