Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, December 9, 2023

Startup Targets Early Docker Support on Windows Server 

More production support for Docker containers emerged this week in the form of a startup founded by former Microsoft engineers that is emerging from stealth mode to support the Docker Engine on the current version of Windows Server.

WinDocks, a startup based in Bellevue, Wash., said it expects an October beta release under an early evaluation program. It also announced a community funding campaign. "We are the first company to bring the Docker Engine to Windows Server," claimed WinDocks Founder and CEO Ramesh Parameswaran.

The system is designed to deliver the native Docker Engine along with new Windows container services to support .NET and SQL Server applications on Windows Server 2012.

Microsoft disclosed details of its container strategy last week in a technical preview of Windows Server 2016 that included the first public build of its Windows Servers Containers. Microsoft called the release "the first step toward bringing containers to the Windows Server ecosystem."

WinDocks said it plans to provide "a compatible upgrade path to future Microsoft releases, but we note that WinDocks will provide developers a more practical on-ramp to Docker-based development, being based on Windows Server 2012," the current target for most enterprise and independent software vendor projects.

Meanwhile, the startup said it is working with Microsoft to "ensure a smooth upgrade path to Microsoft Docker support on Azure [Cloud] and Windows Server 2016."

Parameswaran added in a statement that the early evaluation program would "enable DevOps to get started on Windows-based Docker development."

WinDocks executives also stressed its focus on .NET developers and the DevOps community in general working on Docker compatible tools. The startup includes former Microsoft Windows, Internet Information Services for Windows Server and SQL server veterans.

"Work is continuing to test and support a broad set of Docker commands, and some Docker commands are likely not supportable on Windows," Parameswaran noted on a blog post outlining the Kickstarter campaign. "We are also collaborating with Microsoft to ensure that WinDocks commands and syntax will provide a compatible upgrade to future Microsoft products."

The WinDocks containers "have not been tested in production environments in large scale," Parameswaran acknowledged. "This container design has also been reviewed previously with Microsoft, and we believe it is the best possible for support on Windows Server 2012."

Meanwhile, WinDocks said it has a Docker prototype working on a Windows Server. The WinDocks architecture includes a Docker Engine running on Windows Server that creates a .Net container along with a SQL server container.

WinDocks' architecture for running Docker Engine on Windows Server.

Parameswaran previously led Microsoft development teams working on cross-platform technologies like Unix shell on Windows and Windows VPN. Rama Srinivasan, the startups' chief technical advisor, was a member of the original Microsoft development teams for Windows, Internet Information Server and SQL Server.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).