What We Heard About Containers and Windows Server App Migration at Microsoft Ignite

Oct 2 2018

Ever since Microsoft CVP Erin Chapelle spoke about the future of Windows Containers at DockerCon earlier this year, there has been excitement around the general availability of Windows Server 2019. That announcement came last week at the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Orlando.

Ignite was a tremendous opportunity for us to discuss the containerization journey with companies of all shapes and sizes. A central theme: what to do with large numbers of applications running today on Windows Server 2008, an operating system that will reach the end of its supported lifecycle in a mere 15 months.

Here are some common questions discussed last week at Ignite:

Q: What challenges do legacy Windows Server applications present?

A: Legacy applications have several challenges:

  • Fragile dependencies between the OS, application and other components
  • Lost knowledge when original development teams move on.
  • The stickiness of legacy .NET applications, with 70 percent of .NET apps still running on Windows Server 2003 or 2008.

Q: Are Docker containers only a public cloud technology?

A: Containers are the fastest growing cloud enabling technology, and are often used to enable cloud migration initiatives. Jabil Circuit, GE Digital and Lindsay Corporation are among many customers that have used containers and Docker Enterprise, our container platform, to transition workloads to the Microsoft Azure Cloud. However, containers are are portable from on-premises to the cloud and for hybrid cloud deployments. Containerizing on-premises workloads today is a great way to migrate off of Windows Server 2003/2008 and onto Windows Server 2016/2019 environments anywhere.

Q: Can I run .NET Framework workloads on Kubernetes?

A: Windows Server Containers are currently a beta feature in the Kubernetes project. But even  with the release of Windows Server 2019 and Windows worker node support in Kubernetes v1.13, Windows Server support in Kubernetes will be limited to Windows Server 2019. Windows user authentication could also be a challenge with Kubernetes, especially for legacy applications that use Integrated Windows Authentication (IWA).

Docker Enterprise ships today with both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm integrated into the platform. Swarm, which has supported Windows Server worker nodes for nearly 18 months. When Kubernetes releases support for Windows containers, we’ll support it in production on Docker Enterprise. We demonstrated Windows support at DockerCon San Francisco earlier this year..

Q: Are containers a better approach for Windows Server 2008 applications than lifting and shifting VMs to Azure?

A: Lifting and shifting a virtual machine from on-premises to Azure may provide additional security updates for a few years, but it kicks the can down the road.

The application will still need to be migrated to modern infrastructure, and paying for an entire public cloud virtual machine for a single application is a significant interim cost, plus the time to migrate, refactor and rehost the app — a process that has to be repeated every few years. Migrating an application to a Windows Server Container with Docker Enterprise is the last migration that app will ever require.

Q: How can containers address environments large amounts of traditional applications?

A: Docker Enterprise provides a holistic solution to addressing application portfolios of all sizes, even those with hundreds or thousands of applications.

  • Platform: The only enterprise-ready container platform that fully supports Windows Server and Linux containers side by side
  • Tools: Purpose-built tools to automate the conversion of .NET apps to containers and accelerate deployments
  • Methodology: A validated methodology and field expertise for containerizing legacy .NET applications

Docker Enterprise helps your organization meet migration deadlines by providing a field-tested and validated methodology and plan for containerizing your legacy applications. In future blog posts, I’ll explore these questions in more detail.


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