Microsoft has announced new container support in the next version of Windows Server, along with an open source implementation of the Docker Engine.
Docker is a way of packaging applications into an isolated and standardised bundle, enabling multiple “Dockerized” apps to run on a single server. Standardisation means that app images can be moved between servers, or from a developer’s computer to a server, without having to manage the configuration of the target server or install application dependencies.
Virtual machines (VMs) have a similar advantage, but are more heavyweight since each VM runs an entire operating system, whereas a Dockerized app is smaller and faster to start.
Docker was developed for Linux and fits well with current trends including continuous delivery, where the time between amending application code and depoloying it is reduced to a minimum; microservices, where applications are composed from many services each with a narrowly defined purpose; and DevOps, integrated application development with IT operations.
Microsoft hates to be left out, and already offers support for Docker on Linux in its Azure cloud. Now it has announced the Docker Engine on Windows Server; support for Docker orchestration APIs to allow management of apps across both Windows and Linux with Docker tools; and the availability of Docker app images for instant deployment from the Azure portal, via integration with the official Docker Hub repository.
The support for Docker comes alongside a new feature called Windows Server Containers, which Microsoft says provides applications “an isolated, portable and resource controlled operating environment.”
Windows Server Containers will support applications built with .NET and other Windows technologies.
The move is significant for Microsoft platform developers looking enviously at the efficiency and agility enjoyed by Docker developers on Linux.®