First look: Run Docker in Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 debuts support for Docker and container management with PowerShell, with a few wrinkles

First look: Run Docker in Windows Server 2016

The way applications are being built and delivered across data centers is changing. The move to a service delivery model is well under way, and it’s closely tied to the shift to a devops culture. Central to this change is the implementation of a continuous delivery processes, using build tooling to deliver new and updated applications.

Also key are container technologies such as Docker, which allow you to abstract applications and services from the underlying OS, running in a secure silo and accessing underlying OS services only. Multiple containers can run on the same host, each protected from the others. Unlike hypervisor-based virtualization, containers don’t need a separate OS image, and containers can happily run on virtualized infrastructure -- including being hosted in infrastructure-as-a-service clouds.

While container technologies are nothing new -- they date back to the mainframe, were a key feature of FreeBSD and OpenSolaris, and have been supported in the Linux kernel for years -- the simplicity of the Docker container engine has made containers an integral component of the modern data center. Docker’s easy-to-use command line and well-defined API mean it’s a snap to build, share, and manage containers on Linux -- and now on Windows.

Windows Server meets Docker

Docker’s Windows tools have been available for some time, but only for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Microsoft had promised Docker support in Windows Server a while ago, demonstrating it on stage at its Build developer event in April 2015. It took a few more months for that support to make it to a release of Windows Server, with the first public version arriving a couple of weeks ago in Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3.

Now that I have the latest Windows Server 2016 build running on a test server, I’ve been looking at how Windows Server 2016 implements containers. One note: While you can install the PowerShell container cmdlets on a full UI Windows Server, it’s not recommended. That’s why Microsoft includes a WIM (Windows Imaging) disk image for a Server Core with container support as part of the Windows Server 2016 TP3 download alongside the standard installer. While setting up a test server, I also discovered that Windows Server 2016 is now much stricter about the processors it supports, with Second Level Address Translation (SLAT) a prerequisite for Hyper-V, which meant that one of my test servers is now obsolete.

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