Why Containers?

I’ve been looking at and dabbling with containers for some time. I got more interested a few years ago as I saw the changes that Microsoft made to ensure container support for SQL Server, especially with the introduction of the WSL and Linux container support on Windows. This is one of those technologies that I think fundamentally changes the world, especially when we get good orchestration options, like Kubernetes.

I was thinking about how the world changed as I read this piece with a little history of containers. It’s an interesting read, and eventually gets to the point of the title, the containers have changed the world. They have, and I think they will substantially change how we think about software in the next decade as more and more applications and systems move towards using containerization.

Containers do change the idea of what we think of as a computer. It’s not quite a piece of hardware and some software. Now it’s just software and it can be running on all sorts of hardware, perhaps even at the same time with complex orchestration layered over a variety of hardware.

What does that mean for us data professionals? I think this will alter the SQL Server world. This image of a Big Data Cluster is the beginning, with the same architecture likely appearing for “normal” OLTP workloads over time, though likely in some managed environment. I think hybrid, Azure Arc type of architecture, where we have SQL Server containers connected together and allowing us a highly scalable data platform.

I suspect we’ll have lots of other software components, communicating across networks, each in its own little container. We’ll learn to build and update containers, and ensure communications between different components. I’m already seeing some uptake at Redgate in creative ways, and I suspect we’ll deliver more containerized solutions, as will many others.

Containers are the future, more so than VMs, and I’d recommend you start learning something about them.

Steve Jones

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Editor, SQLServerCentral
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