5 min read

See how Azure is empowering cloud-native development and AI innovation with Kubernetes at KubeCon Europe 2024

Greetings and welcome to KubeCon Europe 2024! At Microsoft, we are deeply committed to supporting the cloud native ecosystem through contributions and leadership from engineers across Azure. We’ve made some important enhancements and innovations in Azure, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and our open-source projects, and I’m happy to share the highlights here.

Empowering cloud-native development and AI innovation

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming every industry and domain, enabling new levels of innovation, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Cloud-native development is no exception, as it leverages the power and flexibility of Kubernetes to run AI/ML workloads at scale, across any environment. At KubeCon Europe 2024, we are showcasing how Azure and Kubernetes can help you build and deploy intelligent applications with ease and confidence.

One of the most exciting announcements is the public preview of the AI toolchain operator (KAITO) add-on for AKS. KAITO follows our philosophy of open source first, it is a project on GitHub that anyone can run, and now it is a part of AKS as well. Using KAITO you can now run specialized machine learning workloads like large language models (LLMs) on AKS more cost-effectively and with less manual configuration. Streamlined in a few steps, the KAITO add-on for AKS automates LLM deployment across available CPU and GPU resources by selecting optimally sized infrastructure for the model. This add-on makes it possible to easily split inferencing across multiple lower GPU-count virtual machines (VMs), increasing the number of Azure regions where workloads can run, eliminating wait times for higher GPU-count VMs, and lowering overall cost. You can also choose from preset models with images hosted by AKS, significantly reducing overall inference service setup time on your cluster.

Making it easier to adopt Kubernetes best practices

Kubernetes is the de facto standard for orchestrating containerized applications, but it can bring some challenges and complexities, especially for new users. That’s why we are constantly working to make Kubernetes easier to use, more reliable, and more secure.

At KubeCon, we are announcing several new features and enhancements that will help you adopt Kubernetes with confidence and convenience. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Deployment safeguards: Deployment safeguards for AKS (preview) is a new feature that applies Kubernetes best practices in your AKS cluster through Azure Policy controls. With the introduction of two configuration levels, “Warning” and “Enforcement,” you can benefit from oversight of your Kubernetes manifest files. This feature enables you to either receive immediate warnings for improperly configured manifest files at the time of deployment or to outright block such files from being deployed.
  • Intelligent workload scheduling in Azure Kubernetes Fleet Manager: Fleet workload scheduling is a new open-source component that we have developed to help you optimize the utilization of your cluster resources. It allows you to place workloads into clusters based on new heuristics, such as cost and availability of resources. You can also customize cluster-specific resources by targeting groups of clusters through resource override.
  • Windows support: We have made several improvements to our Windows support in AKS, including the general availability of Windows Gen 2 VMs, and custom kubelet configuration. These features enable you to run Windows workloads on AKS with better performance, security, and compatibility.

Enhanced security and scalability

Security and scalability are two of the most important aspects of cloud-native development, as they ensure the protection and performance of your applications and data. At Azure, we’re committed to providing you with the best-in-class security and scalability solutions for your Kubernetes workloads, leveraging the latest technologies and best practices.

We’re introducing several new features and capabilities that will enhance the security and scalability of your AKS clusters and nodes:

  • 5,000 node limit: Both existing and new AKS clusters using Standard tier now get greater scalability and performance for the Kubernetes control plane, up to a maximum of 5,000 nodes and 100,000 pods per cluster (generally available). This will help you run larger workloads and get greater scaling performance.
  • Trusted launch (preview): Trusted launch (preview) improves the security of Gen 2 VMs by protecting against advanced and persistent attack techniques. It enables administrators to deploy AKS nodes, which contain the underlying virtual machines, with verified and signed bootloaders, OS kernels, and drivers. By using secure and measured boot, administrators gain insights and confidence of the entire boot chain’s integrity.
  • Managed Prometheus in additional regions: Azure Monitor managed service for Prometheus allows you to collect and analyze metrics at scale using a Prometheus-compatible monitoring solution, based on the Prometheus project from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. This fully managed service allows you to use the Prometheus query language (PromQL) to analyze and alert on the performance of monitored infrastructure and workloads without having to operate the underlying infrastructure. With this new update, Azure Managed Prometheus will be available in 13 additional public Azure regions.

Looking to the future: Azure at the heart of more innovation in cloud-native open source

As you can see, we have a lot of exciting news and updates to share with you at KubeCon, but we’re always looking ahead and exploring new ways to make Kubernetes and Azure better for you and the cloud-native community. It’s been great to see some of what the team has been up to over the past year, but it’s even more exciting to think about the coming year. Whether it is new developments in AI, WebAssembly, or platform engineering, the coming year promises to deliver even more open innovation in cloud-native open source, and Azure will be at the heart of it.

We’re excited to see you at KubeCon

We hope you’re as excited as we are about KubeCon Europe 2024 and all the amazing things that Azure and Kubernetes have to offer. Here are some of the ways that you can get involved and learn more:

We look forward to seeing you and hearing your feedback and suggestions. You can also follow us on X for more updates and news.

Happy KubeCon!

Azure Kubernetes Service

Deploy and scale containers on managed Kubernetes