Sean's Virtual Desktop

Containers Are the Next Game Changer

VMware, Microsoft announcements hint at the future for admins.

Earlier this week, VMware announced two new open-source projects based on container technology. Project Photon is a lightweight Linux distribution designed for running containers, and Project Lightwave's an orchestration and management tool built on technology from Pivotal.

This, plus Microsoft's recent announcement of Windows Server Nano with container support, sends a clear message about the future. Containerization is here, and it, along with a raft of other technologies such as configuration management, will be coming to your datacenter or environment sooner rather than later.

While this just marks the next stop on the evolution of the data center, it brings a huge change for many systems administrators in environments that are predominately based on Windows Server. Since the release of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has steadily decreased the need for the GUI-based management tools with Windows Server Core, PowerShell, and various remote-management technologies. At the same time, infrastructures are getting easier to automate and manage through the use of software-defined solutions.

The only constant in IT is change. These changes won't happen overnight, so there's time to get out in front of them. Many of the tools that will make up the next paradigm are open source or commercial software with a free tier, so you can run them in a lab environment or on your own time. These tools aren't always the easiest to learn or use, but if you start learning them now, you'll be ready when your business says they need it.

While sysadmins won't become irrelevant, the nature of their work will change. It will be less about managing Windows, Linux and the underlying infrastructure and more about automating, orchestrating, and managing applications. It's time to pivot towards these areas now.

About the Author

Sean Massey is a systems administrator from Appleton, Wisc. He blogs about VDI, Windows PowerShell, and automation at, and is active on Twitter as @seanpmassey.


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