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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces Nano Server and Hyper-V Containers

Microsoft Announces Nano Server and Hyper-V Containers

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Microsoft continues its push to adapt to the new realities brought about by the containers tsunami, having recently announced the Nano Server, a "minimal footprint" Windows Server, and Hyper-V containers, which provide virtual machine isolation capabilities to containers.

Nano Server is even more stripped-down than Windows Server Core. The team has removed "the GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components". It isn't possible to do local logons or use Remote Desktop (as there is no GUI). WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) and PowerShell are the only tools available to manage Nano Server, although a set of web-based management tools is in the works. Microsoft is also working on better remote tooling. This includes work on PowerShell's Desired State Configuration, file transfers and script authoring and debugging.

Reducing Nano Server to a minimum core improved its efficiency, security and availability. According to Microsoft, the Nano Server has 93 percent lower VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) size, 92 percent fewer critical bulletins and requires 80 percent fewer reboots than a typical Windows Server, due to the reduced footprint. Nano Server is also much faster to setup: from bare metal to running Nano Server takes 3 minutes, as demonstrated by Refaat Issa, Senior Program Manager on the Nano Server team. By comparison, Windows Server Core takes about 19 minutes.

Microsoft was already committed to support containers, Docker in particular, through Windows Server containers. Hyper-V containers will offer a degree of isolation that was only available to "dedicated physical or virtual machines".

Hyper-V containers are one of the latest contributions to supporting Docker on Microsoft's ecosystem. Docker 1.6 includes a Windows Client preview, a joint effort by Docker Inc. and Microsoft. Earlier this year, Microsoft launched the beta releases of Docker Machine on Azure and Hyper-V and of Docker Swarm on Azure. It also committed to support Docker Compose in the Azure provisioning process.

Microsoft's new offerings will be available on the next Windows Server. Microsoft promises to unveil more details at the next Build and Ignite conferences, in two weeks' time.

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