On October 15, the Microsoft Open Technologies initiative announced that it plans to “deliver new container technologies in the upcoming wave of Windows Server releases.” At the same time, the company also announced a partnership with Docker Inc. that is intended to add Windows Server support to existing Docker tools, where the Open Tech group will contribute software to the Open Source Docker Client to “support the provisioning of multi-container Docker applications [running] on Azure.” Here’s the image that MS used to depict what’s on its way in the next version of Windows Server:
Microsoft Azure already supports Linux hosted containers; the next Windows Server version will support them natively.
MS plans to demonstrate this capability at Docker Global Hack Day #2 coming up at the end of this month (October 30). A technical preview of what Mary Jo Foley wisely labels “Windows Server vNext” — given that we don’t yet know what MS intends to call this product family — is available on MSDN to those with access to that service. It appears there under the heading of “Windows Server” as “Windows Server Technical Preview,” “Windows Server Technical Preview (VHD),” and “Microsoft Hyper-V Server Technical Preview.”
The way in which MS describes this effort is both interesting and accurate enough to be worth presenting verbatim, so here goes:
Docker is an open source engine that automates the deployment of any application as a portable, self-sufficient container that can run almost anywhere. This partnership will enable the Docker client to manage multi-container applications using both Linux and Windows containers, regardless of the hosting environment or cloud provider. This level of interoperability is what we at MS Open Tech strive to deliver through contributions to open source projects such as Docker.
Docker containers simplify the development of software applications that consist of micro-services. Each service then operates as an isolated execution unit on the host. Common use cases for Docker include:
- Automating the packaging and deployment of applications
- Creation of lightweight, private PaaS environments
- Automated testing and continuous integration/deployment
- Deploying and scaling web apps, databases and backend services
This promises to be an interesting development for Windows Server, which has been perceived to be lagging behind in the container field, despite Hyper-V’s substantial virtualization portfolio. I expect this to be one of the biggest and most heralded new features to be discussed and explored as the next version of Windows Server makes its way through the preview process and into general release around the middle of 2015.