Microsoft Partners With Docker To Bring Container Support To Windows Server

Docker containers are one of the hottest technologies for developers these days and all the large cloud vendors now support it in some form. For the most part, though, containers are associated with Linux servers. That’s going to change soon, however, as Microsoft today announced that it will add support for Docker to Windows Server in future releases.

“We recognize the importance of providing flexibility to our customers as they look to innovate in this mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of Cloud + Enterprise at Microsoft, in today’s announcement.

Specifically, Microsoft announced that the next release of Windows Server will support the Docker Engine, which runs and orchestrates containers. As Microsoft notes, the Docker Engine for Windows Server will be developed with the support of the Docker open-source community and Microsoft will participate there as an active community member. Docker Engine images for Windows Server will also be available through the Docker Hub — the main community-run repository for Docker images. 

This isn’t Microsoft’s first foray into the world of Docker containers. The company’s Azure cloud computing service already supports it, for example, and the two companies are working together to integrate container orchestration on Azure into the next Docker release. In addition, as Microsoft today announced, the Docker Hub will soon be integrated directly into the Azure Management Portal and Azure Gallery to “allow Microsoft’s vast ecosystem of ISVs and cloud developers to have access to some of the best work of Docker’s community to drive rapid innovation on both Windows Server and Linux.”

Microsoft is clearly aware of the trend around containers, portability and delivering software through micro services — even in the enterprise where Windows Server still commands a large part of the market. Microsoft built its own container technology, under the “Drawbridge” moniker, over the last few years and recently started talking about it more publicly. It’s unclear what today’s announcement means for that project, but it looks like Microsoft has decided to bet on Docker — and the huge momentum behind it — for the time being.

For Docker, today’s announcement means that it will get an inroad into the kind of large enterprises that run Windows Server. Docker CTO and founder Solomon Hykes acknowledged as much in a statement today. “The strength of Windows Server in the enterprise makes its inclusion into the Docker project a watershed event for the Docker community and ecosystem,” he said in today’s announcement.