Understanding Azure Container Registry

Use Azure to manage the containers and components that make up your Kubernetes applications

Understanding Azure Container Registry
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When you get to the end of a devops build pipeline you’re left with a set of artifacts: binaries, configuration files, Web pages, even virtual machines and containers. They’re the components that go together to construct a modern application. Wrapping as many of those components as possible into a container makes a lot of sense, giving you a simpler deployment model. But that leaves a new set of questions: How do you manage those containers and how do you deploy them across a global-scale cloud application?

Services such as GitHub offer private and public registries for your build artifacts, using open standards and open source code. Azure has done the same, using the open source Docker Registry 2.0 as the basis for its own container registry, compliant with Open Container Initiative. It’s not intended to be only for containers; with the increasing importance of Kubernetes-based cloud-native applications, it’s meant to be a one-stop repository for all your OCI-compliant build artifacts. That now includes Helm charts, so you can use Azure’s Container Registry (ACR) as the deployment hub for your applications, using Helm 3.0 for delivery to Kubernetes instances.

Getting started with ACR

Tools such as Azure Container Registry are best thought of as private registries. Only you and your team and services have access to your registry, automating delivery to Azure services that use containers. Familiar tools such as Azure DevOps and Jenkins can be configured to use the Registry as a build end point, so you can go straight from merging a pull request to a container on Azure, ready to deploy.

Microsoft currently offers three versions of ACR: Basic, Standard, and Premium, at three different price points. They all work with Web hooks, use Azure Active Directory for authentication, and have the capability to delete images. Basic has the lowest capacity; Premium includes support for replication across regions and adds image signing support. You’re most likely to use Standard, which gives you 100GB of storage, 60MBps download bandwidth, and supports as many as 10 Web hooks. Pricing is per registry per day, with additional network costs and a separate charge for CPU usage when building new container images.

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