Microsoft made a couple big container moves recently. The first is the introduction of Hyper-V Containers, a new hypervisor that runs containers safely on Windows Server. The other is the Microsoft Nano Server, a stripped-down, minimal footprint Windows Server install option made for cloud and containers.
Both the Hyper-V Containers and Nano Server are a bid to entice developers to Microsoft's cloud platform.
Hyper-V Containers is used in conjunction with Docker containers. It combines the maneuverable, agile Docker container technology with the isolation of virtual machines or "enhanced isolation," as Microsoft dubs it. VMware touts a similar story for its hypervisor and Docker, which Microsoft added to support Azure late last year.
The Nano Server is on the same playing field as CoreOS, a lightweight and lean flavor of Linux. CoreOS recently raised a $12 million round from Google, another cloud competitor. Canonical’s Ubuntu Snappy and Red Hat’s Project Atomic are also competing offerings.These lightweight operating systems and containers go hand-in-hand in making the app lifecycle nimble.
Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and others are trying to attract application development onto their clouds. The biggest trend in application development is containers, which make apps easy to deploy anywhere by packaging their dependencies. Containers eliminate a major app development headache by making sure an app is tuned for each infrastructure in which it will reside.
Developers have embraced containers en masse. While the enterprise wants in on the action, there’s apprehension as to whether it’s quite enterprise-ready--even though that is Microsoft's goal in introducing the two new products. Docker is already supported and, like Azure, appeals to enterprises.
“As developers look to expand the benefits of containers to a broader set of applications, new requirements are emerging,” wrote Mike Neil, general manager of Windows Server. “Virtualization has historically provided a valuable level of isolation that enables these scenarios, but there is now opportunity to blend the efficiency and density of the container model with the right level of isolation.”