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Microsoft bolsters Azure hybrid container platform capabilities with Kinvolk buy

Microsoft bolsters Azure hybrid container platform capabilities with Kinvolk buy

Kinvolk builds and maintains open source projects that span all layers of the cloud native stack.

Credit: Dreamstime

Microsoft has acquired German Flatcar Container Linux creator Kinvolk with the intention of bringing the expertise of the company’s team to its Azure business where it is hoped they will contribute to projects that will expand Azure’s hybrid container platform capabilities. 

Founded in Berlin in 2015, Kinvolk builds and maintains open source projects that span all layers of the cloud native stack, from Kubernetes, through the container runtimes, systemd and the Linux kernel.  

In 2018, the company launched the project that would become its first commercial product, Flatcar Container Linux, a community Linux distribution designed for container workloads, with high security and low maintenance. 

The company has since been working on Lokomotive, its Kubernetes distribution, and Inspektor Gadget, a collection of debugging and inspection tools. Each of these projects builds upon existing open source technologies. 

Flatcar Container Linux has a sizeable community of users on Azure, according to Microsoft, as well as other clouds and on-premises.  

From Microsoft’s perspective, Kinvolk has a rich history in open source cloud-native distributed computing, including Kubernetes, eBPF, community building and container-optimised Linux, as well as critical early work with CoreOS on the rkt container runtime.  

For Brendan Burns, Azure Compute corporate vice president, this mix of expertise and product development represents a valuable asset to the software giant. 

“The ability to run Kubernetes anywhere, whether in the cloud or on-premises, has been a high priority for Azure customers looking to rapidly innovate, with increasing customer focus on the benefits of container-optimised workloads and operating systems, lean application modernisation, easier operations, and platform resiliency,” Burns said in a blog post. 

“Kinvolk’s founding mission statement is ‘to build and promote an enterprise-grade open cloud-native stack’ — we think this fits perfectly with our growing customer needs and our ongoing investments in open source and Kubernetes. 

“Microsoft is excited to bring the expertise of the Kinvolk team to Azure, where they will be key contributors to the engineering development of Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure Arc and future projects that will expand Azure’s hybrid container platform capabilities and increase Microsoft’s upstream open source contributions in the Kubernetes and container space,” he added. 

Burns stressed that Microsoft wanted to learn from the Kinvolk team’s track record of starting, building and nurturing open source community projects. He also noted that Microsoft was committed to maintaining and building upon Kinvolk’s open source culture.  

Moreover, Burns said he wanted to assure the Flatcar community that Microsoft and the Kinvolk team will continue to collaborate with the larger Flatcar community on the evolution of Flatcar Container Linux.  

“Microsoft is committed to Flatcar Container Linux community development and will invest in working with the Flatcar community to create a growth path forward together,” Burns said. “We’ll have our first meeting with the community within the coming weeks and invite anyone interested to attend and join the conversation. 

“The Kinvolk team will remain active in their existing open source projects and will be essential to driving further collaboration between Azure engineering teams and the larger open source container community. 

“We’re excited to bring the Kinvolk team and their technologies to Microsoft and look forward to the contributions they bring to Azure, our customers and the open source community,” he added.


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