Practical Windows Container for SQL Server – WinDocks & NetApp

This is a guest post by Pat Sinthusan, Technical Marketing Engineer for NetApp.

Containers are a vehicle for building and shipping applications or services. Since 2013 their use has exploded within the Linux community, but Windows has not seen similar adoption because of the lack of native container support within their platform. Windows Server 2016 will ship with container support, but there are currently no Windows or SQL Server container facilities available for the existing Windows Server 2012 generation of products which customers are using today; until now.

To fill the void, WinDocks has released the first Docker Engine for Windows environments. It provides Windows developers, SQL Server DBAs, and operations personnel the opportunity to begin container-based development on Windows Server 2012, with .NET, SQL Server, and Windows application containers.

Private, Public or Hybrid Cloud architectures increase IT customer’s agility, primarily by automating and speeding up the provisioning of new servers on demand. What took weeks or months to do traditionally is done in minutes or hours with the cloud and virtualization technology, and can now be done in seconds using container technology. This increased speed of deployment enables customers to try new ideas quickly, driving organizational agility. For example, WinDocks is capable of instantiating a new instance of SQL Server in as little as 4 seconds from a 1 socket, 4 vCPU server.

However, a new SQL Server instance will also need a copy of the database to work with, so WinDocks and NetApp collaborated together to combine container-based Windows application development and test with NetApp FlexClone technology to enable the rapid cloning of large database files in seconds. The solution is fast and flexible enough to run either on-premises or on the cloud. A team of developers or testers is easily supported with separate instances on a single Virtual Machine. Nearly instant access to new instances of applications and data drive agility.

A containerized SQL Server application can now be provisioned in the cloud, using a NetApp Data ONTAP Storage to create a writable snapshot clone of a 750 GiB database, in just 46 seconds. The combination of SQL Server containers with NetApp storage solutions is a new and powerful option for organizations to move databases freely be between On-Prem, Private Hosted Cloud or Public Clouds. The future of SQL Server and container is here now, using WinDocks and NetApp Data ONTAP.

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Andrew Sullivan
Technical Marketing Engineer at NetApp
Andrew has worked in the information technology industry for over 10 years, with a rich history of database development, DevOps experience, and virtualization. He is currently focused on storage and virtualization automation, and driving simplicity into everyday workflows.

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