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Microsoft unveils Hyper-V containers, nano servers

Microsoft has unveiled Hyper-V containers and nano servers

Microsoft has unveiled Hyper-V containers and nano servers

Microsoft has unveiled a number of updates to Windows Server including Hyper-V containers, which are essentially Docker containers embedded in Hyper-V VMs, and nano servers, a slimmed down Windows server image.

Microsoft said Hyper-V containers are ideal for users that want virtualisation-grade isolation, but still want to run their workloads within Docker containers in a Windows ecosystem.

“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,” explained Mike Neil, general manager for Windows Server, Microsoft in a recent blog post.

“In addition, applications developed for Windows Server Containers can be deployed as a Hyper-V Container without modification, providing greater flexibility for operators who need to choose degrees of density, agility, and isolation in a multi-platform, multi-application environment.”

Windows Server Containers will be enabled in the next release of Windows Server, which is due to be demoed in the coming weeks, and makes good on Microsoft’s commitment to make the Windows Server ecosystem (including Azure) Docker-friendly.

The company also unveiled what it’s calling nano servers, a “purpose-built OS” that is essentially a stripped down Windows Server image optimised for cloud and container workloads. They can be deployed onto bare metal, and because Microsoft removed tons of code it boots up and runs more quickly.

“To achieve these benefits, we removed the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components. There is no local logon or Remote Desktop support. All management is performed remotely via WMI and PowerShell. We are also adding Windows Server Roles and Features using Features on Demand and DISM. We are improving remote manageability via PowerShell with Desired State Configuration as well as remote file transfer, remote script authoring and remote debugging.  We are working on a set of new Web-based management tools to replace local inbox management tools,” the company explained.

“Because Nano Server is a refactored version of Windows Server it will be API-compatible with other versions of Windows Server within the subset of components it includes. Visual Studio is fully supported with Nano Server, including remote debugging functionality and notifications when APIs reference unsupported Nano Server components.”

The move is a sign Microsoft is keen to keep its on-premise and cloud platform ahead of the technology curve, and is likely to appeal to .NET developers who are attracted to some of the benefits of containers while wanting to stay firmly within a Windows world in terms of the tools and code used. Still, the company said it is working with Chef to ensure nano servers work well with their DevOps tools.