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Microsoft continues to look for ways to help companies that are investing in application containers take advantage of the principles of serverless computing, introducing a new open-source project Monday at Microsoft Built in conjunction with Red Hat that puts events at the heart of Kubernetes scaling decisions.

KEDA (Kubernetes-based Event-Driven Autoscaling) will allow anyone running Kubernetes in the cloud or on their own managed servers to set rules that automatically scale their Kubernetes clusters up or down in response to external events, such as a new data stream, without having to manage the underlying servers. Companies that have decided to upgrade applications running on the virtual machines of past years to containers often turn to Kubernetes to help manage the complexity of large deployments, and cloud providers have embraced the open-source project originally developed at Google.

“Offering serverless Kubernetes has been a key part of our vision to make Kubernetes simpler for everyone — by providing an end-to-end experienced optimized for developer productivity on top of an enterprise grade platform with hardened security and layers of isolation,” wrote Brendan Burns, distinguished engineer at Microsoft, in a blog post expected to go live Monday morning. Burns was one of the Googlers who originally built Kubernetes, and he’ll be speaking at our upcoming GeekWire Cloud Summit along with co-creators Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie of VMware as part of its fifth anniversary.

One of the main selling points for cloud computing is that you don’t have to manage your own servers, but that’s just the hardware: customers using basic cloud computing services still need to manage several layers of software that run atop the basic hardware. Serverless computing allows developers to build applications designed around functions and events that run on servers that are completely managed by the cloud provider.

Brendan Burns, distinguished engineer at Microsoft, unveils his proposal for software libraries that could make it easier to deploy cloud apps at KubeCon 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

This is a really compelling model for a lot of emerging applications, but serverless services like Amazon Web Services’ Lambda or Azure Functions tie your applications much more closely to a given cloud provider than containers. Demand for something container-friendly that’s still easier to manage has led to the rise of “serverless container” services like Azure Container Instances or AWS Fargate.

KEDA takes that a step further by extending those benefits to Kubernetes clusters. Kubernetes is a big part of Microsoft and Google’s cloud strategy as they look for ways to help companies that have made big bets on cloud leader AWS to move their applications across multiple clouds, and there are lots of people and companies betting on Kubernetes as a way to bridge those gaps.

Azure Kubernetes Service will now let administrators set policies around their Kubernetes clusters. (Microsoft Image)

Microsoft also plans to announce that customers using Azure Kubernetes Service will be able to apply security and compliance policies to their AKS clusters with Azure Policy for AKS, which is now advancing to the public preview stage after a month in private preview. Given the complexity of operating these systems at scale, customers are often looking for as many ways to automate security policies as possible, because people make mistakes.

And two other previously announced Kubernetes-related servers will become generally available on Azure this week. AKS customers can now use virtual nodes to more quickly launch and more easily manage containers running on Azure, and Azure Dev Spaces allows companies to get developers up and running with standard development environments already configured with their AKS setup in place.

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