Windows Server 2016 is both Docker-friendly and cloud-ready

windows server 2016 CSC Blogs

The leading open-source container technology Docker has come to Windows Server 2016.

Would you have ever imagined that Windows Server would support a major open-source infrastructure program? Maybe a leopard can’t change its spots, but when it comes to Linux and open-source software, Microsoft can change its ways.

Nowhere does that show more than in Microsoft embracing Docker. If clouds are the foundation for 21st century IT, then containers will be the bricks. With containers, companies can run far more applications on servers than they ever could on virtual machines (VM). This, in turn, empowers clouds to become even more cost efficient.

Until recently, you could only do that if you used Linux. Microsoft, which under its new leadership is no longer wedded to its proprietary past, saw this coming. Microsoft started working on integrating Docker into Azure in 2014. By 2015, Docker was running on Linux instances in Azure. Now, Docker runs natively on Windows 2016.

Here’s what you’ll get with Docker on Server 2016 on Azure:

Commercially Supported Docker Engine: This is Docker’s tested, validated and supported package of Docker Engine. It will be available to Windows Server 2016 customers at no additional cost. Microsoft and Docker will provide customers with Docker Engine enterprise support.

Companies that will get the most from this marriage of Windows and Docker are the ones that use both Linux and Windows, explained Michael Frills, a Docker product manager. Server 2016 is best “for developers and IT-pros that build and maintain heterogeneous deployments with both Linux and Windows,” he said.

The Docker platform does this by giving developers and system administrators a single set of tools, application programming interfaces (APIs) and image formats for managing both Linux and Windows apps. Frills continued, “As Linux and Windows apps and servers are ‘Dockerized,’ developers and IT-pros can bridge the operating system divide with shared Docker terminology and interfaces for managing and evolving complex microservices deployments both on-premise and in the cloud.”

Microsoft is also making Windows Server 2016 more cloud-friendly not just by adding Docker cloud support, but by adding a version just for Azure: Nano Server. This is a stripped-down, headless version of Server.

According to Microsoft, Nano Server is designed for two usage scenarios:

  • Born-in-the-cloud applications–support for multiple programming languages and runtimes (e.g. C#, Java, Node.js, Python, etc.) running in containers, virtual machines, or on physical servers.
  • Microsoft Cloud Platform infrastructure–support for compute clusters running Hyper-V and storage clusters running Scale-out File Server.

On top of that, based on the current builds, compared to Windows Server 2012, Nano Server boasts:

  • 93% lower Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) size
  • 92% fewer critical bulletins
  • 80% fewer reboots

Nano also comes with an updated module for building Nano Server images. With these you can also enable more separation of physical host and guest VM functionality and support different Windows Server editions.

There are also improvements to the Recovery Console. This includes separation of inbound and outbound firewall rules as well as the ability to repair configuration of Windows Remote Management (WinRM). In a word, “Sweet!”

Now, I’m a Linux guy myself, but if I were running Windows Server on the cloud, this is a no-brainer update. Windows Server 2016 is Microsoft’s first true cloud-friendly operating system and you should look into updating to it as soon as possible.


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