Are Windows Containers a Good Choice?

I like containers. I think they’re the future of the SQL Server data platform. I also think this is likely on Linux, with Linux versions of SQL Server. You might disagree, and that’s fine, but that is where I see this moving over time.

Why? I ran across a great post from Joey D’Antoni of DCAC that outlines one reason: Kubernetes. This is the way we will start to orchestrate SQL Server instances in the future, whether disparate or scaled-out, and this is really Linux technology. If you go Linux, with Kubernetes and containers, you’ll be able to easily move your systems as needed from your data center to developer machines (perhaps with SQL Provision from Redgate), to the Azure cloud, or over to the AWS cloud, a partner Kubernetes install, etc. It’s flexible.

Windows Kubernetes will be less flexible. Inherently because less people use it, while more and more people are using, supporting and deploying Kubernetes on Linux.

This won’t happen soon, as I think it’s 5-10 years before a good majority of SQL Server moves to 2019+ and containers become more mainstream for app and data work, but this shift is starting.

This also doesn’t mean Windows goes away. I really like Windows. I’m comfortable with it, and I plan on having a Windows laptop for the forseeable future. What’s more, I can run Linux containers on Windows, thanks to the WSL. Even Microsoft sees containers with Linux as a future on Windows.

Like Joey, I don’t want to dismiss or denigrate any work for Windows containers. I think it’s a good idea, and certainly some people will want to run their Windows apps in Windows containers. I just don’t think it’s the future for the data platform.

Steve Jones

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1 Response to Are Windows Containers a Good Choice?

  1. paschott says:

    Sadly, you’re probably right about this. I’d love to see better support for Windows containers. SQL does run on Linux now and the containers there are more flexible. If that ever changes, I’d love to give that a try as I see potential uses. In the meantime, trying to get familiar with Docker & K8 for SQL and related tech. It was kind of nice to spin up a SQL 2019 instance quickly w/ Docker with a pretty small footprint. Next up – figure out persisted storage so I can swap containers and use the same storage for easier upgrades. 🙂


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