Despite “containers” being a Linux technology, I believe Windows containers has an even bigger value-proposition. Because Windows is more “bloated” than Linux, and because it’s common to just “spin up another VM” for minimal workloads, I think turning Windows workloads into microservices could be a big deal!
I mention this because whatever container technology I invest in, I want to make sure Windows is part of that future.
Now, Windows Containers is still brand new. Support came out in April 2017 and it was officially supported by Docker and Microsoft in late August 2017. So, if you want a production Windows Container environment – what are you to do?
Well, Docker Inc partnered with Microsoft and Docker UCP/Docker DTR seems to be the first-class answer.
But Docker UCP and Red Hat OpenShift – aren’t those like, gazillion dollar products? Why yes, they are! I wish there was a decent container orchestration product that was open source and free.
There are other products out there, but Rancher seems to be one of the stand-outs, and it does support Windows containers right now (I think?). I spent a little time digging into it – and it looks pretty decent!
OK, here are some notable things I found. First, if you just want to play around with it – you can use:
You log in, give it a couple VM’s from your favorite cloud provider and you can start standing up containers! Otherwise, if you wanted to bring up a cluster of your own, it’s super simple:
You literally just start up a container and it takes care of the rest!
So much support!
I was really amazed to see that Rancher can run and work with ALL of the orchestration engines: Kubernetes, Mesos, Swarm, and it also has it’s own “Cattle” orchestration engine!
This is pretty significant to me, because now you aren’t limited by the underlying technology. It supports ALL of the major technologies!
I haven’t dug into it too much – but it seems very similar to what I’ve seen in Docker UCP and in OpenShift. You can use a Docker Compose (or Rancher Compose YAML) file to stand up a “stack” (a managed, containerized application) – or individual containers. Within a Stack, you can have 1 to n auto-scaling “services”.
So – basically everything you’d expect from a professional-grade container orchestration tool.
If you don’t have gobs of money to spend on DOcker UCP, OpenShift or other enterprise-class container orchestration tools – Rancher seems to not-only be adequate, but it seems to be VERY impressive, and a good (free) alternative!