Microsoft on Wednesday is challenging Google's cloud computing business with a trendy new kind of cloud computing service that Google specializes in -- along with a super-cheap payment model that will be perfect for cutting-edge experimental uses.
The Azure Container Instances tool will provide access to a container -- a virtual slice on a physical Microsoft server -- within seconds, Microsoft said, and the company will charge based on the number of seconds that a given container is being used, instead of by the minute or by the hour.
Containers, which have become trendy in the past few years, are considered a more efficient alternative to virtual machines.
Microsoft has embraced the container format in its Windows Server software for corporate data centers, as well as in its Azure cloud, with services like the Azure Container Service and Azure Container Registry.
Now Microsoft is going deeper, with a focus on speed and simplicity.
"As the service directly exposes containers, there is no VM management you need to think about or higher-level cluster orchestration concepts to learn. It is simply your code, in a container, running in the cloud," Corey Sanders, head of product for Azure Compute at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.
The introduction of the product can be read as a challenge to Alphabet's Google Cloud Platform, whose Google Container Engine is based on the Kubernetes open-source container cluster management software. Kubernetes is based on technology that Google used internally, and the company introduced it publicly in 2014 as competing container services became popular.
The service also represents Microsoft's latest shot at public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services.
Microsoft Azure revenue was up 97 percent year over year in the second quarter, Microsoft said last week.