Microsoft is going deeper with Kubernetes with a new managed service. Azure Container Service (AKS) aims to simplify the deployment, management and operations of Kubernetes, the open-source system for container orchestration.

“We have seen customers fall in love with our current Kubernetes support on Azure Container Service, currently known as ACS, which has grown 300% in the last six months. Now with the preview of AKS, we are making it even easier to manage and operate your Kubernetes environments, all without sacrificing portability,” Gabe Monroy, PM lead for containers at Microsoft Azure, wrote in a post.

The new solution features an Azure-hosted control plane, automated upgrades, self-healing, scalability, and a developer/cluster operator user experience. “With AKS, customers get the benefit of open source Kubernetes without complexity and operational overhead,” Monroy wrote.

Microsoft is making AKS available for free. Users will only have to pay for virtual machines.

In addition, Microsoft announced updates to its Azure Container Registry (ACR), its private registry solution. ACR is now generally available. It features the ability to store and manage images across Azure deployments, keep container images new deployments, maintain Windows and Linux container images in a single registry, and supports open-source Docker command line interface tools.

Microsoft also announced the preview of ACR geo-replication a new feature that enables users to operate at global scale. “Through the click of a map, customers can now manage a single registry, replicated across any number of regions. Any push/pull of a container image to ACR will be routed to the closest registry,” Monroy wrote.