Microsoft To Support Hyper-V Containers

Microsoft said it will support Hyper-V containers in order to further the young container technology by providing more deployment options and workloads, while developers will be enabled to build more scalable apps.

The news comes with a new version of Windows Server on tap.

The new Windows Server, code-named "v.Next," is expected to be debuted in a preview version at the upcoming Build developer conference in San Francisco.

Microsoft Hyper-V containers will offer a deployment option to running applications on Windows Server. The company announced last fall that the next version of Windows Server will support containers, which are lightweight runtime environments with many of the core components of a virtual machine and isolated services of an OS designed to package and execute so-called micro-services. However, while the addition of containers to Windows Server V.Next has been described before, the Hyper-V containers addition is something new.

Microsoft has previously described a partnership with Docker to ensure its containers could run in Windows Server environments. The move followed an earlier announcement in June 2014 to ensure that the Microsoft Azure public cloud could run Docker containers on Linux-based virtual machines. Microsoft has also indicated that Azure will support Docker's open orchestration APIs and Docker Hub images in the Azure Gallery and Portal.

The latest addition today of Hyper-V containers will offer a deployment option that offers extended isolation utilizing the attributes of not just the Windows operating system but Hyper-V virtualization, according to Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager for Windows Server, in a blog post.

"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," Neil wrote. "Microsoft will now offer containers with a new level of isolation previously reserved only for fully dedicated physical or virtual machines, while maintaining an agile and efficient experience with full Docker cross-platform integration. Through this new first-of-its-kind offering, Hyper-V Containers will ensure code running in one container remains isolated and cannot impact the host operating system or other containers running on the same host."

The Hyper-V containers will support the same development and management tools as those designed for Windows Server Containers, Neil noted. Moreover, he said developers don't need to modify applications built for Windows Server Containers in order to run in Hyper-V containers.

As part of today's announcement, Microsoft also revealed plans to offer a container-based scaled down version of Windows Server called the Nano Server, aimed at modern, cloud-native applications. The latest report of the Nano Server under development surfaced last month.

For modern application scenarios where Hyper-V and Windows Server would be overkill, Neil described the new Nano Server as "a minimal footprint installation option of Windows Server that is highly optimized for the cloud, including containers. Nano Server provides just the components you need -- nothing else, meaning smaller server images, which reduces deployment times, decreases network bandwidth consumption, and improves uptime and security. This small footprint makes Nano Server an ideal complement for Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers, as well as other cloud-optimized scenarios."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.