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Docker Introduces Modernization Program For Legacy Windows Server Apps

With support for Windows Server 2008 ending in 2020, Docker is encouraging enterprises to use the event as an opportunity to modernize apps with its container management platform.

Docker is looking to capitalize off its Microsoft alliance by offering a modernization track to organizations running legacy apps on a soon-to-be retired version of Windows Server.

The San Francisco-based container pioneer introduced a program Thursday aimed at helping customers containerize apps running on Windows 2008, which Microsoft will stop supporting in January 2020.

"Fourteen months away from end-of-support is not a long time for the enterprises that have hundreds of apps," Jenny Fong, Docker's director of product marketing, told CRN.

[Related: Docker Hires VMware Veteran To Fill CTO Void Left By Founder's Exit]

Docker's Windows Server Application Migration program combines know-how gained from another application modernization program with new capabilities released in Docker Enterprise 2.1 and new tools to fast-track containerization projects, Fong said.

Docker Enterprise, the company's container management platform, differentiates itself through the ability to support Windows containers in addition to Linux ones.

"One of the things we have done is make sure what we have for Linux applications is also there for Windows applications," Fong said. "Same user experience for both types of applications."

Docker Engine, the open source tool for containerizing applications, ships with Windows Server 2016—the only third-party solution embedded in the popular operating system.

"We have a unique position here to help customers solve a real problem that they have," Fong said of the Microsoft alliance.

Microsoft has indicated to Docker that 70 percent of Windows-based apps are running on Windows Server 2003 or 2008. Support was terminated for the former in 2015.

Once 2008 is also phased out, customers won't be able to get Microsoft patches, hotfixes, or standard support.

Organizations can make that event an opportunity to update legacy apps with container architectures, making them more agile and portable, Fong said.

"Even if you upgrade the server, the apps are still very static legacy apps," Fong said. "There's high cost in maintaining those legacy apps."

Docker Enterprise 2.1 adds features built in collaboration with Microsoft.

Among the updates are smaller image sizes and greater compatibility between the host Windows OS and versions of Windows running inside container images. There's also upgraded networking options around routing mesh and load balancing that bring parity with Linux to Windows environments.

Microsoft recognizes the importance of helping customers containerize their workloads, Fong said.

"A lot of their push is to help customers move to Azure and we believe containerizing your workload is a great enabler of that cloud migration," she said.

The new program builds off lessons from Docker's Modernize Traditional Applications program the company launched early in 2017. The MTA program helped organizations containerize legacy apps without touching their code.

"We've taken elements of that experience and tuned it to be directly about solving this immediate problem customers have with their Windows server footprint," Fong said.

Docker has also built tools to enable containerizing apps running on Windows Server, Fong said.

Among them, Docker Application Converter, which discovers applications that can be automatically converted into a Docker container format.

Docker also introduced Docker Certified Infrastructure, a combination of best practices, reference architectures and automation scripts, that accelerate deployment into AWS, Microsoft Azure or VMware infrastructure.

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