Microsoft partners with Docker to bring containers to Windows Server

Docker has taken the DevOps world by storm, and that has caught the attention of Microsoft. Now, Microsoft and Docker are teaming up to bring native support for the container technology to the next generation(s) of Windows Server.

Docker is an open platform that enables organizations to run any application as a Docker container. The Docker containers can be implemented across virtually any infrastructure—delivering tremendous agility and flexibility for managing virtual applications. The container concept accelerates software development timeframes, and allows organizations to reduce costs and improve efficiency at the same time. It’s easy to understand why Docker is so popular.

There have been more than 21 million downloads of the Docker platform, and there are over 45,000 “Dockerized” applications available on the Docker Hub Registry, and 13,000-plus Docker-related projects on GitHub. Just last month Docker took in $40 million in another round of investment.

Major names in tech, like Rackspace, Google, and IBM have already pledged their support for Docker. Now Microsoft wants to bring the hot technology to Windows.

Docker Engine for Windows Server will allow customers to create Docker container applications that can run locally on Windows Server, or on virtual Windows Server instances in the cloud on Azure. In a blog post announcing the Docker partnership, Ross Gardler of Microsoft Open Technologies explains, “As part of this announcement, MS Open Tech is contributing code to the Docker client that supports the provisioning of multi-container Docker applications on Azure. This code removes the need for our cross-platform CLI to bootstrap the Docker host. In other words, we have taken a simple process and made it even simpler.

“This development is interesting because Docker has been a really fast moving technology having come out of almost nowhere a year ago to where now it is an incredibly widely supported technology,” stated Al Hilwa, an IDC analyst. “It is a bit of engineering but Microsoft wisely decided that they did not want to leave Windows developers out of the Docker party. This is good for Microsoft because those 45K ‘Dockerized’ applications will be able to run on Windows.”

To be fair, Microsoft isn’t completely new to Docker. Earlier this year it added support for Docker in Azure, but only on Linux. This new partnership launches an open source project to develop a Docker Engine runtime for building, running, and managing Docker containers natively within Windows Server. Docker Engine for Windows Server will be managed as a Docker open source project, but Microsoft will be a major contributor to the community.

The Microsoft blog post describes why Docker’s container technology is so important for the fast-paved development of a DevOps environment. “Containers do not include a full operating system, consequently rapid development and scaling of container-based applications is possible through very quick boot and restart operations. Furthermore, highly efficient creation of modified container images, by virtue of only capturing the differences between the original and new containers, enables improved management and distribution of containerized applications; the resulting images are both small and highly portable across almost any platform.”

Hilwa summed up with some thoughts about the new strategic vision of Microsoft. “What is even more interesting is that the work on the Docker engine in Windows is being done in open source—really showcasing the new Microsoft attitude towards open source (e.g. the open sourcing of Roslyn a few months ago). I really think we are seeing a faster and more open Microsoft, one that is more willing to integrate and collaborate with competing technologies without a lot of hesitation.”

Tony Bradley

I have a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security--and a desire to help others understand how technology can affect or improve their lives. I also love spending time with my wife, 7 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 3 rabbits, 2 ferrets, pot-bellied pig and sulcata tortoise, and I like to think I enjoy reading and golf even though I never find time for either. You can contact me directly at tony@techspective.net. For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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