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How Docker plans to help businesses get around Windows Server 2008

Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2008 in 2020. Many applications will fail to upgrade to the latest server OS. But Docker has a plan

Containerisation can help business lift and shift legacy Windows Server 2008 applications, and Docker regards this as a big opportunity. The Microsoft server operating system reaches end of support after 14 January 2020.

During his keynote presentation at Dockercon in Barcelona, Steve Singh, CEO and chairman, Docker, said: “Legacy systems have critical data, but they are siloed. You need to leverage this data, and deliver innovation in real time through a continuous improvement cycle. This requires a brand new mindset and a next generation computing platform to unleash innovation.”

Containers provide the platform on which organisations can speed up innovation using DevOps. According to analyst Forrester, many companies use enterprise container platforms, mainly to speed up software development and mature software development and IT operations.

Singh said the goal of the Docker container platform is to deliver a platform that enables innovation at a global scale. “Containers are everywhere. Software containers will be at heart of innovation in fourth industrial revolution.”

Part of this innovation involves encapsulating legacy applications in containers and using application programming interfaces (APIs) to access core services built into these applications in a controlled manner.

This is one of the key benefits for enterprises, according to Forrester’s New Wave for container platforms published in October 2018. “An enterprise container platform is popular for modernising both traditional and microservices applications.

“Docker offers a secure container supply chain from the developer’s desktop to production and simplifies multi-OS and multischeduler container clusters,” Forrester’s New wave for enterprise container platform software suites, Q4 2018 report said.

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According to Singh, 85% of IT budgets are already spent on maintaining existing systems. IT needs to reduce this cost to free up budget for innovation. For Singh, one way this can be achieved is to use containers. “Containerised legacy IT makes it easier to manage,” he said.

Estimates from Docker suggest 70% of Windows .Net code run on legacy Windows Server 2003 and Server 2008 software. The challenge for IT, according to a Docker blog post, is that there are software dependencies in these applications, that mean they cannot easily be shifted to a modern server operating system platform like Windows Server 2019, as this would cause application incompatibility issues.

Docker regards end of support of Windows Server 2008 as a big opportunity to use its Docker Enterprise platform to run these old applications in their own Docker containers on top of supported server environments like Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019. The legacy code effectively runs in the environment it has always used – such as Windows Server 2008 – but the container is actually running on a modern platform like Windows Server 2019.

In November, Docker announced the Windows Server Application Migration Program. At the time, Scott Johnston, chief product officer for Docker, said: “Windows Server customers come to us for help designing a container strategy for their legacy applications that will help mitigate end of support issues.

“Through this programme, many customers experience a 50% reduction in the total cost of ownership (TCO) of applications using Docker Enterprise, freeing up budget for strategic IT initiatives such as cloud migration or edge computing.”

Consumer demand driving change

In a demonstration at the Dockercon Barcelona conference, Raj Mistry, head of MuleSoft for Emea, discussed how a Windows Server 2008 e-commerce application could be migrated to the latest Windows Server 2019 release using a Docker container and the MuleSoft API gateway.

“Our demand as consumers is driving companies to do things differently. IT isn’t working,” he said. “How do you unlock internal data and externalise it for an ecosystem to future proof it?”

Through a new partnership with Docker, he showed how MuleSoft could be used to access the legacy application.

For Singh, customers can begin by containerising legacy code using Docker Enterprise. But over time, he hopes they will start to make use of additional features, such as the tie-up with MuleSoft, which enables the containerised legacy applications to be part a modern application architecture.

Once implemented, the Docker Enterprise container platform and methodologies enable organisations to both modernise existing applications and adopt new technologies based on business requirements and customer needs.

Docker Enterprise enables companies to standardise the software platform and adopt new technology stacks and architectures without changing how they operate.

According to Docker, Docker Enterprise enables organisations to have a secure, repeatable model that does not lock them into a specific infrastructure or cloud, enabling companies to modernise applications and adopt new technologies as business requirements evolve.

Next Steps

Partners help clients consider post-Windows Server 2008 options

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