Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, May 20, 2022

Microsoft Cloud Gets a Container Partner 

Microsoft's application container ecosystem continues to expand with the announcement this week by a virtualization, container and data management vendor that it would make its container technology available on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

San Jose-based Sphere3D Corp. (NASDAQ: ANY) said Thursday (Dec. 10) its Glassware 2.0 application container technology could be used to migrate Windows business applications to the cloud for use on multiple devices or operating systems. The containers have so far been provisioned on 70 virtual machines on the Azure marketplace, the company noted.

The migration of application container technology to the public cloud for uses cases like virtual desktop infrastructure also illustrates how the application-delivery technology is beginning to make inroads among smaller enterprises.

Sphere3D's Glassware technology dubbed G-Series Cloud is available now from the Azure Marketplace for provisioning on the virtual machines. The company said its container platform requires no code rewrites while eliminating the need for implementing application-hosting environments. As more workers use business applications on different mobile devices, Sphere3D also claimed its container technology could deliver cloud-based application session density and scale.

The company said its container approach differs from other hypervisor-based schemes in that an application host operating system is not installed on a virtual machine. The version being offered on the Azure cloud provides only necessary elements such as the operating system kernel required to run business applications. That, the company claims, allows users to migrate both current and legacy applications to Azure's elastic infrastructure.

By "decoupling" applications from the underlying operating system, Sphere3D said its container approach could virtualize up to 64-bit Windows applications and deliver them with native functionality to a range of mobile devices.

The lightweight approach also is touted as providing greater security, a key stumbling block to greater adoption of application container technology for production workloads. Sphere3D's twist on enterprise security is that it allows users to access corporate data from any device while reducing the IT workload associated with securing and delivering that data.

As lightweight micro-services slowly enter the IT mainstream, companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) are embracing container technology as a way to deliver its huge installed base of enterprise applications to mobile users. Responding to the question: "When will Docker application containers run on Windows?" the company announced this past summer that Windows Server 2016 would support Docker.

Along with virtual applications and desktops, Sphere3D also offers virtual storage along with physical, hyper-converged platforms through its Overland Storage and Tandberg Data subsidiaries. The availability of its Glassware container technology on the Microsoft Azure cloud expands the virtualization vendor's push to help enterprise customers' public, private and, increasingly, hybrid cloud strategies.

The company said its cloud approach essentially allows organizations to "create their own private clouds within the cloud" to manage data on-premises or remotely.

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).

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