First Docker, now Mesos: Windows broadens its support in containers

Microsoft teams with Mesosphere, making Windows servers easier to manage and expanding Azure's appeal

Mesos -- cluster management software that has also become a container-management tool -- is now available for Windows, just like Docker.

The news is a double win for Microsoft: Mesos will enable Linux admins to manage Windows servers at scale with familiar tools, and it provides yet another way for Microsoft to get customers to deploy Linux workloads in Azure.

Microsoft and key Mesos developer Mesosphere in joint announcements last week talked up Mesos on Windows' ability to leverage the same API set as its Linux counterpart, as well as the ability to integrate with Mesosphere's data-center management product DCOS.

"While this is still a technical proof-of-concept," Microsoft said in its blog post, "it opens possibilities by giving organizations a way to combine both Windows Server and Linux machines into a single pool of resources in their data center or cloud."

mesos windows Mesosphere
Mesos manages fleets of machines -- Linux and Windows alike -- via the same APIs on either platform.

Such massive-scale resource management has been a key selling point of Microsoft Azure, especially in its client-side Azure Service Fabric. In theory, adding Mesos support to Windows allows Windows admins to leverage the existing (and growing) pool of Mesos-based tools for managing machines at scale for the sake of running containerized applications.

Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich cited this as a key usage example, and also said Microsoft is attempting to broaden its appeal by "working with companies across Linux, open source, proprietary software, and everything in between." Mesos is already deployed in Microsoft Azure for Linux users, in response to customer demand, Russinovich noted.

Having Windows servers behave like Linux servers at the macro-management level works in Microsoft's favor. Aside from giving the company a selling point for Azure as a multi-platform platform, it also allows Microsoft to make a better case for having Windows Server and Linux workloads intermixed freely in a local data center -- which feeds into the company's ambitions to build a hybrid cloud by leveraging customers' existing data center resources (i.e., their existing investment in Windows Server).

Unconfirmed reports have circulated that Microsoft might acquire Mesosphere, with a potential price tag of up to $1 billion. If true, Microsoft might further build up Mesos as a fabric for Linux on Azure as a complement to what Microsoft has already created for Windows Server.

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