Party pooper Microsoft pulls plug on Party Cluster

If yer name's not on Azure's list, you ain't coming in

Microsoft has said it is killing off Azure Party Clusters, the software giant’s free trial for Service Fabric workloads, so engineers can concentrate on stopping the rest of the stack from toppling.

Citing a need "to focus our engineering efforts on supporting production workloads and enhancing the supportability of Service Fabric", Microsoft has announced the party is over unless you'd care to set yourself up an Azure account and have a crack at a freebie trial instead.

What was neat about the functionality was that no subscriptions or sign-ups were required – setting up a party cluster was a matter of a few clicks, and then two hours (at the time of the 2015 launch) of cluster goodness was your (or rather your app's) for the taking. Once those two hours were up, anything you'd stashed in the cluster was automatically blown away, and you'd need to start again.

Microsoft later reduced the time its largesse would last to just one hour and, at time of writing, users required a Facebook login or GitHub account to join the party.

Alas, no more.

Service Fabric first made an appearance in April 2015 as Microsoft's pitch at letting devs create web apps out of various interconnected components. A bit like Kubernetes, which Microsoft also supports – heck, it numbers Kubernetes Daddy Brendan Burns among its Distinguished Engineers – but according to Microsoft exec, Jason Zander, Kubernetes remains "two or three years behind" the Service Fabric product line.

Zander told us, back in November 2018, that while both Kubernetes and Service Fabric give devs the container orchestration they crave, the latter adds functionality such as highly available state. Both technologies are, of course, open source.

Microsoft has additionally lobbed the Service Fabric technology at Linux and will also cheerfully allow the creation of Service Fabric clusters on computers running the open source OS (although only Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are officially supported at present) as well as its own, so there are several options to keep the party going.

And after all, there ain't no party like an open source services party.

But for those wanting their hour of power on the Azure Service Fabric dance-floor, the party is, sadly, coming to an end. ®

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