Microsoft continues to put more of its focus into the container space, announcing updates to several platforms serving the market. Those include its Nano Server and Server Core products, and increased support for Linux.
The company said the next release of its Nano Server platform will reduce images by more than 50 percent. The move is expected to reduce container startup times and increase density.
The company also plans to remove the current infrastructure-related functionality from the platform. The service will be available only as a container-based operating system image that must run as a container in a container host. Troubleshooting will be run through Docker.
Those using the platform will be urged to deploy Microsoft’s Server Core installation option to handle the roles and features functions.
Nano Server was announced in 2015 as a purpose-built operating system designed to run “born-in-the-cloud applications and containers.” Microsoft noted the platform was a spinoff of its Windows Server product optimized for cloud and DevOps workflows.
Server Core Semi-Annual Updates
Microsoft also announced it would be including its Server Core platform as part of a broader move to provide semi-annual updates to services. The platform is described as a “headless” installation option of the operating system that includes roles and features to run data center servers and traditional applications in a container environment.
Server Core will become the recommended host for virtual machines and containers. Microsoft said the move bolsters the platform’s position in support of moving legacy applications to containerized deployments.
Native Linux Support
Microsoft’s Windows Server is set to gain native support for Linux containers and workloads. The move will see an extension of the company’s Hyper-V isolation capability to Linux containers. Microsoft said users will be able to run those containers on its Windows Server platform instead of having to deploy two separate container infrastructures.
The company is also moving its Windows Subsystem for Linux product to its Windows Server platform. The migration will allow developers to use the same scripts, tools, procedures, and container images used for Linux containers on its container host.
Docker Inc.’s then CEO Ben Golub said the ability to run Linux containers on Windows would simplify the running of heterogeneous applications.
“You can deploy heterogenous applications without having to worry about where they are running,” Golub told SDxCentral.
Docker Inc. last month announced industry veteran Steve Singh will take over as CEO, adding to his position as chairman of the board at the company. Golub maintained his director position on the company’s board.
Microsoft Container Push
Microsoft’s container strategy has been seen as lagging behind some rivals, though analysts note the software giant has made significant progress in the space.
“Although the Windows Server Container ecosystem is no doubt many months behind that of Linux, [Microsoft] has been doing a good job building out its container functionality and providing its customers with a reason to upgrade,” noted Cowen and Company in a recent report.
Microsoft in April signed a deal to acquire open source software company Deis for an undisclosed amount. The move is seen as boosting Microsoft’s ability to create and manage applications using Kubernetes for container orchestration.
Microsoft has been long-rumored in talks about acquiring Docker Inc., with reports last year of a $4 billion offer being put on the table. While a deal was obviously not struck, analysts continue to note an opportunity.
“The next 12-24 months could determine whether Docker Inc. chooses to remain an independent entity, based on commercial performance,” Cowen and Company stated. “If Docker were to sell itself, we view [Microsoft] as the most likely buyer.”
451 Research earlier this year predicted the container market will have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent, growing from a $762 million business in 2016 to a nearly $2.7 billion business by 2020. As part of its forecast, the research firm noted, “enterprise interest and the presence of a large number of both startups and established vendors in the container market indicate a continuing high level of M&A through 2017.”