Kubernetes 1.5 comes to Windows Server 2016

If Docker does Windows, why can't Kubernetes, too? And so now it does -- but its uptake is tied to the Windows Server upgrade cycle

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Over the last couple of years, Docker's been one of the fastest-moving projects in IT. But Kubernetes, Google's system for orchestrating containers running at scale, stands to share Docker's "move fast" mantle. Its last major version, 1.4, was only just released in September.

Now Kubernetes 1.5 has arrived with Windows Server 2016 and Windows Container support in hopes that the Big K can "extend its reach to the mass majority of enterprise workloads."But that's assuming enterprises choose to embrace it in the first place by upgrading to the latest version of Windows Server.

We do Windows

Apprenda, the company that spearheaded the effort to port Kubernetes to Windows (in conjunction with Microsoft, Google, and Red Hat), provided some details in a press release about the work it did on the port, and about what makes Windows Server such a suitable target for Kubernetes.

Some of the reasons for the latter are obvious. Docker's now a Windows property, so it only stands to reason that Kubernetes will complement it nicely. But Apprenda didn't just aim to replicate the functionality Kubernetes had outside of Windows; it's also wanted to provide support for features exclusive to Windows.

The most prominent example of that is Kubernetes support for both kinds of Windows containers. One is conventional Windows Containers, essentially the port of Docker to Windows. The other is Hyper-V Containers, a highly touted Windows Server 2016 feature that provides VM-like isolation but with somewhat less overhead than a full VM.

... just not your Windows

Apprenda's thinking is that given the sheer number of Windows Server systems out there in enterprises -- something like 37 percent of all enterprise systems run Windows Server -- it's wise to provide a cross-platform toolset that allows Windows-centric enterprises to stay that way.

Thing is, Kubernetes on Windows will only work for versions of Windows Server that actually support it -- in other words, Windows Server 2016 and later.

Spiceworks, source for the Windows Server usage data used in Apprenda's presentation, conducted a survey last year to determine what the rate of Windows Server 2016 adoption might be like. Most of those surveyed planned on waiting upwards of 2 years before putting Windows Server 2016 into production.

What's more, Windows Server Containers and Docker support ranked remarkably low on the list of things driving such a move. Only 12 percent said container support something to look forward to, implying that even after a Windows Server 2016 upgrade those features would lie relatively fallow.

As remarkable as it is to have Docker and now Kubernetes on Windows Server, it's unrealistic to expect those things to drive upgrades to that OS. Adoption of Docker and Kubernetes are more likely to be driven by an existing Windows Server upgrade, not the other way around. But with Kubernetes on board, it's now harder to claim container support on Windows is of a lesser breed.