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Microsoft Boosts Azure's Container Chops with Kinvolk Acquisition

Microsoft has acquired Kinvolk, a Berlin-based maker of open source Kubernetes solutions and tools, for an undisclosed amount.

The acquisition will allow Microsoft to support running Kubernetes on both cloud infrastructures and on-premises infrastructures, according to Brendan Burns, corporate vice president of Azure Compute, in Microsoft's announcement on Thursday. Kinvolk's expertise will bolster engineering support for Microsoft products such as the Azure Kubernetes Service and Azure Arc, Microsoft's multicloud management tool.

Kinvolk (which translates to "extended family") called the acquisition a "same team, different company" situation. According to its site description, Kinvolk maintains open source projects across "all layers of the cloud native stack." Its founding team of four open source software engineers got started in collaboration with CoreOS to build the rkt container runtime, a command-line interface for running Linux application containers in pods.

Kinvolk is also known for its open source Flatcar Container Linux product. Its Flatcar Container Linux Pro operating system is currently offered on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure cloud computing platforms. Kinvolk also has its own Lokomotive Kubernetes distribution, plus it makes Inspektor Gadget debugging tools.

Kinvolk created Flatcar Container Linux as a replacement for, and successor to, CoreOS Container Linux, which was discontinued last year, according to Kinvolk's Flatcar FAQ. Flatcar Container Linux features a minimal footprint for a reduced attack surface area, and the OS image is said to be "immutable." It's deemed immutable because the operating system has two partitions. The second partition gets software updates, but it'll roll back to the first partition should any problems be encountered.

Flatcar Container Linux development will be continuing at Kinvolk, even after Microsoft's acquisition of the company, the Flatcar FAQ explained:

Microsoft and Kinvolk are fully committed to the Flatcar Container Linux user community, and to ensuring continuity for users who have already gone through a lot of upheaval over the past couple of years. In fact, we are committed to doubling down on the Flatcar community: we want to expand the universe of partners, contributors, and users, to ensure a vibrant, successful and sustainable long-term future for Flatcar as a truly open, community-driven project.

Burns said that "Microsoft is committed to maintaining and building upon Kinvolk's open source culture" and that Kinvolk will be "essential to driving further collaboration between Azure engineering teams and the larger open source container community."

Microsoft is also "committed to Flatcar Container Linux community development" and plans to invest in it, Burns indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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