Microsoft today released the third technical preview of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016, marking the first time the public can test Windows Server Containers.
The DevOps-enabling technology helps remove many of the bottlenecks that slow the business application deployment process, ultimately stifling innovation, Mike Schutz, general manager of Microsoft's Cloud Platform, told eWEEK. "Developers and IT alike are under tremendous pressure to accelerate the speed and agility required to serve the business," he said.
Noting that as enterprises discover that DevOps allows development teams and IT administrators to "work more closely together using common tooling, it is becoming a more mainstream way of doing things," Schutz added. Featuring support for Windows Server Containers, the upcoming release of Windows Server 2016—due sometime in calendar year 2016—is expected to help popularize the agile application development and deployment model among Microsoft's enterprise customer base.
Microsoft worked with Docker, lead commercial supporter of the open-source Docker application container virtualization platform, on its implementation of Windows Server Containers, Schutz said.
Containers help reduce "a lot of that friction that exists today, from dev to test to production," noted Schutz. "They are quite popular with cloud developers, particularly those building cloud applications at scale. For the first time, IT pros and developers can test containers" using Windows Server, he added.
In terms of bringing developers onboard, the company announced new "Docker tooling for Visual Studio," Schutz said.
"We are also introducing updates to Visual Studio and Visual Studio Online that make it possible for developers to use the tools they know and love to deploy the Windows Server Container experience," the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team wrote in an Aug. 19 blog post related to the announcement. "Available today, from Visual Studio, you can create a Windows Server Container host within Azure, publish your ASP.NET Web or console app to the newly built container, and then deploy it to a container host."
The latest build of Windows Server 2016 also includes new software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities. A core component of the so-called software-defined data center, SDN virtualizes IT networking capabilities, allowing data center operators, and cloud providers in particular, to more flexibly manage their infrastructures compared to purely hardware-based implementations.
"Software-defined networking is a hot space right now," Schutz said. "We've built a scalable network controller into Windows Server 2016." A new software load balancer provides higher performance and high availability, he added.
Windows Server 2016 newfound SDN capabilities were inspired by the tech giant's own experiences in operating a massive cloud infrastructure. "It's cut from the same cloth that we deployed in Microsoft Azure. It's battle-tested technology," said Schutz.
Also available today is a major update to Nano Server, the "ultra-lightweight deployment option for Windows Server," said Schutz. Previously deployable only on a virtual machine, today's update adds the option to install the stripped-down OS on physical servers.