Windows Server and Hyper-V containers, which are in preview now and will release in 2016, provide a great demonstration of the benefits of having a hybrid cloud deployment.
Windows Server and Hyper-V containers are a brand new technology that most IT Pros and decision makers will be unfamiliar with. In a nutshell, Windows Server and Hyper-V containers are self-contained virtual environments for hosting applications. Windows Server containers run on top of Windows Server 2016 or Microsoft Azure. Hyper-V containers can run on Hyper-V Server 2016 or within Microsoft Azure.
Unlike a virtual machine, which includes all of the operating system files, a container only includes the application files and its dependencies. Whereas virtual machines can be 20 or more gigabytes in size, a container hosting an application may only be tens or hundreds of megabytes in size. Containers are also non-persistent. They host everything needed to run the application, but data still needs to be stored elsewhere, such as in a database or some other form of persistent storage.
Their extremely small size means that containers are far more portable than VMs. Depending on the network speeds, it can often take some time to shift 20 or more gigabytes across the public Internet from your on-premises environment into Azure. Contrast this to containers, where even moving a couple of hundred megabytes takes relatively little time at all.
Moving containers is straightforward. You can move a container from one host to another just by shifting the container files. This portability is beneficial for organizations that have a hybrid private/public cloud deployment because it means that developers creating applications can build a container on their development machine, push it into their organization’s private cloud deployment for wider testing, and then push that same container up into Azure when the application is ready to be deployed into production.
The on-premises public cloud functions as a space where everything about the application can be tuned before it’s pushed into the cloud and made available to the people that will be using it.
When the application needs to be updated, a newer version of the container can be dropped in. When you only need to shift tens of hundred of megabytes of data between your on-premises environment and Microsoft Azure, you can take a different approach to application updates than you would if you had to if you have to shift 20 or more gigabytes each time you wanted to make an incremental change.
This content is sponsored by Microsoft.
Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center, Security, and Infrastructure Group, creates courseware for PluralSight, and writes the Hyperbole, Embellishment, and System Administration Blog.