Microsoft has introduced a new container service, (ACI), that is intended to provide a more lightweight and granular way to run containerized applications than its Azure Container Service (ACS).

ACI runs individual containers that you can configure with specific amounts of virtual CPU and memory, and that are billed by the second. Containers can be pulled from various sources – Docker Hub, the Azure Container Registry, or a private repository – and deployed from the CLI or by way of an Azure template.

Microsoft is emphasizing how ACI is complementary to ACS, rather than a replacement for it. ACI is meant for smaller, more burst-able workloads, or as a way to temporarily satisfy a surge in demand, rather than as a way to deploy complex, long-running applications with many interdependencies between containers.

One key difference between ACI and ACS: ACI supports only one orchestrator, Kubernetes, and only by way of . In other words, it’s possible but not required to use Kubernetes as an orchestrator for ACI workloads. You can also draw on  for building Kubernetes apps.