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Microsoft last year came forward and declared multiple times that it understands the appeal of building and running applications in containers, an increasingly trendy low-level technology. Today, Microsoft is showing off two new tools for deploying applications in containers.

First, Microsoft is announcing the development of Hyper-V Containers — containers that are managed by the Hyper-V hypervisor software for running virtual machines, each of which can hold an application.

Such capability should come in handy for large companies that have to maintain regulatory compliance but would like to try running apps inside of containers — which are perceived to be an alternative or even a competitor to virtual machines (VMs).

“You get the agility of container technology, but you’re also getting great isolation and independent management of VMs,” Mike Neil, general manager for Microsoft’s enterprise cloud group, told VentureBeat in an interview.


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The announcement from Microsoft follows VMware’s embrace of containers last year. At the time VMware — a company that grew into a major publicly traded company thanks to the growth of its server-virtualization software — was talking confidently about the power of running containers inside of virtual machines.

Meanwhile, companies that compete with Microsoft in the cloud infrastructure market, namely Google and Amazon, have come out with their own tools for launching applications in containers.

In addition to announcing Hyper-V Containers, Microsoft also today is announcing a teensy-weensy version of its Windows Server operating system.

It’s 5 percent of the size of the current Windows Server, and therefore it’s just the right kind of thing to run inside of a container, Neil said.

Nano Server will ship as part of the next preview of Windows Server next month, while Hyper-V Containers will come in a later preview, a Microsoft spokesman told VentureBeat in an email. The two technologies will both become generally available in the next edition of Windows Server, in 2016, the spokesman said.

Read the blog post on today’s news to learn more about Nano Server and Hyper-V Containers.

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