Microsoft and Docker team up to make sure containers can play nice on Azure and Windows Server

Microsoft and Docker are partnering up to ensure that Docker’s container technology will be fully compatible with the next release of Windows Server. Through this partnership, developers “can have a native version of the Docker engine running inside Windows,” said Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure.

This latest collaboration makes another big-name tech company that’s decided to link up with the cloud darling in 2014. [company]Google[/company], [company]Spotify[/company] and [company]Red Hat[/company] all pledged support early this summer. At this year’s VMworld, both [company]VMware[/company] and [company]Pivotal[/company] also jumped on the container bandwagon.

While [company]Microsoft[/company] has previously enabled the use of Docker on its Azure cloud, developers had to do a series of tasks to get containers up and running. Now, it will be much easier for developers to spin up Docker containers on Azure without having to do any modifications as they’ll will be able to access the Docker Hub within the Azure management portal.

For users of the Docker Hub, not much will change visually, explained [company]Docker[/company] CEO Ben Golub, but developers will have access to libraries that contain Linux components as well as Windows-centric libraries.

It should be possible to create applications that are comprised of both Docker containers built on Linux as well as those built on Windows Server using Docker’s open source orchestration technology, which Microsoft has been contributing to as well.

Graphic showing the Docker engine

“I like to think of this project as a layer cake with three layers,” Golub said. On the bottom layer is Microsoft’s work integrating Docker and making it compatible with Windows, at the top is the Docker ecosystem and the middle is the open source tech Docker is working on to allow for orchestration.

“[The middle layer] links Docker to Windows, and if you’re linking multiple different Docker containers together in a single application, that’s broadly speaking orchestration,” said Golub.

Microsoft, along with IBM and Red Hat and startups CoreOS and Mesosphere, pledged allegiance in July to Google’s open-source container-management project Kubernetes. It’s going to be interesting to follow just how the new Azure and Docker integration plays into what Google has in store for Kubernetes, given that Kubernetes seems like a way for Google to further tout its Compute Engine cloud.