Microsoft Takes Steps to Combine Windows and Linux Servers in One Container
The Apache Mesos project is for large-scale production environments.
Heterogeneous datacenters are the rule rather than the exception these days, and Microsoft is increasing its efforts to acknowledge that reality. Windows servers work side-by-side with their Linux counterparts, and finding ways to help them work together more efficiently is an important undertaking for many IT departments.
Toward that end, Microsoft and Mesosphere announced today that they are collaborating to bring the open source Apache Mesos datacenter orchestration solution into Windows Server.
At this point, the collaboration is still at the "technical proof-of-concept" stage, according to Microsoft's announcement. However, it's aimed at "giving organizations a way to combine both Windows Server and Linux machines into a single pool of resources" via an organization's datacenter.
Mesos is developed as part of an open source Apache project that's been focused on orchestrating resources using Linux servers in datacenters. It's for use in "very large-scale production environments." The idea is to scale operations using pooled resources (compute, storage, CPU and memory) from up to 10,000 nodes.
Mesosphere is a startup company and rumored to be a potential $1 billion Microsoft acquisition target, according to this The Information story. The company built a commercial "private cloud" product based on Mesos. This Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) product, which isn't open source, has tooling support aimed at simplifying distributed computing. DCOS supports both Docker's container technologies and Google's Kubernetes orchestration system for Docker containers. It can run database systems or Big Data-type workloads, such as Hadoop and Spark. It can also be used with platform-as-a-service operations, according to a DCOS product description.
Microsoft announced support for Mesosphere's DCOS on Azure Virtual Machines back in April. At that time, Microsoft explained that Mesosphere's DCOS can integrate with other solutions hosted on Azure, including Docker Swarm and Compose.
Microsoft this week announced its third preview of Windows Server 2016 which features Windows Server Containers, built on Docker's open source container technology. This Docker operating system virtualization technology is designed to make it easier to deploy applications without conflict. Like Mesos, Docker's container solutions were originally designed for Linux servers.
The new Mesosphere partnership announced today to bring Mesos to Windows Server is another open source project overseen by the Apache Mesos organization. The code will be "freely available" and it will integrate with Mesosphere's DCOS, according to Microsoft's announcement. The latest version of the code is already available at the Apache Mesos GitHub repository.
Azure DevOps Support
The Mesos integration is part of Microsoft's efforts to bolster its Azure cloud computing environment as a place for organizations to run Windows and Linux workloads. In an interview with Mesosphere, Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich noted that Azure now hosts one in four workloads as Linux-based virtual machines. He also explained that the Mesos integration into Windows Server is part of Microsoft's effort to push its DevOps vision, which is leveraging the container technologies that were pioneered using Linux servers.
"And we also want to make sure that our Windows customers can take advantage of microservices and DevOps and containers the same way that someone that chooses Linux can take advantage of them," Russinovich explained in the interview. "That's why we’re building container technologies into Windows and why we're doing these partnerships with Docker and Mesosphere to bring those technologies to the Windows space."
Russinovich added that Mesos integration in Windows will unlock "this new style of orchestration for Windows developers." It will allow organizations to pool and allocate a collection of Windows and Linux resources.
Mesos is a "proven open source container orchestration" technology for large-scale production environments, and it's already used by "several Fortune 500 companies," according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft supports it along with Docker Swarm/Compose, Deis and many others" on Azure.
The announcement today is timed with MesosCon, an event happening this week in Seattle for the Apache Mesos community.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.