Microsoft Shows Love for Docker Containers

Many IT organizations are still waiting for Microsoft to deliver support for Docker containers on Windows Server. At the Dockercon 2016 conference Microsoft took the opportunity to further whet the appetites of those customers.

Microsoft announced that the Docker Datacenter platform for managing containers is now available in the Azure marketplace. IT organizations can use it to deploy and manage containers running on Azure cloud or on a local instance of an Azure private cloud. In addition, Microsoft demonstrated its ability to use Operations Management Suite (OMS) to monitor those Docker containers.

In addition, Microsoft showed a preview of the Docker Swarm container management framework creating a Docker container cluster on Azure. It also showed an instance of Microsoft SQL Server running as a Docker image on top of Ubuntu.

Speaking at the conference, Mark Russinovich, Microsoft Azure CTO, told attendees they were witnessing the first use of Docker Mac being used to create containers using the C# programming language.

Anticipation of being able to run Docker containers on Windows Server is running high. But IT organizations should take note of several nuances that may affect their application development and deployment strategies. For one, users can’t port a Docker container running on Linux to Windows. They are essentially two different instances of Docker container technologies. However, IT organizations can combine Docker containers running on Windows and Linux to create a distributed application.

In addition, Microsoft is bringing Docker Networking software to Windows Server. But it’s unclear how long that process will take—which may mean that organizations looking to combine Windows and Linux servers may have to rely on a third-party network overlay for some time.

In the meantime, Microsoft notes that its own customer data shows a quadrupling of container customers, accompanied by a doubling of container consumption in just the first months of 2016. Of that data, more than 25 percent of those customers represent Fortune 500 enterprise IT organizations.

A core part of Microsoft’s strategy is promoting the adoption of containers running across hybrid cloud computing environments. While arch rival Amazon Web Services (AWS) insists that all applications should be deployed in a hybrid cloud, Microsoft has been promoting a hybrid approach. Its strategy employs its cloud service and local appliances running a subset of the Azure code.

Most IT organizations are still a while from deploying containers running on Windows in production environments. But Microsoft wants to give IT organizations a taste of how Docker containers will function on Windows via exposure on Azure. How—and how many—Docker containers will run on Azure versus an on-premises instance of Windows is anyone’s guess. But it’s clear Docker containers are a major element of Microsoft’s overall cloud strategy going forward.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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