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While there’s clearly a lot of hype these days concerning the adoption of Docker containers, most solution providers in the channel have yet to actually encounter them. The reason for this is that today most containers are used for application development projects.

Production applications using Docker containers are starting to appear, but there are still relatively few in terms of the number of them actually running inside each organization. 

One of the places many solution providers will actually get their first look at Docker containers is the Microsoft Build 2015 conference at the end of this month. Previously, Microsoft has announced its intentions to support Docker containers on Windows Server 2012.

This week, Microsoft said that at the Microsoft Build conference it will update attendees on its progress with Docker, including showing an implementation of Docker containers running on top of Microsoft Hyper-V containers; the ability to host Docker containers in the Microsoft Azure cloud using either the Windows Server or Linux platform; and a new lightweight Nano implementation of Windows Server 2012 that is optimized for Docker containers.

The implications for all these Docker containers for the channel—particularly Microsoft partners—are likely to be profound. Server utilization rates, for example, increase dramatically when using Docker containers as an alternative to virtual machines on a physical server. Where there might have been 30 virtual machines on a server, there can now easily be 100 Docker containers. The end result could easily mean a significant reduction in the number of physical servers employed.

Of course, Docker containers can also be hosted on a virtual machine or in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment. While many Docker containers will, no doubt, wind up running on physical servers, many will also be distributed across virtual machines and PaaS platforms. The end result is more complexity inside an IT environment that should result in more demand for expertise to manage them.

As the ecosystem surrounding Docker continues to grow, one of the major opportunities that will emerge will be transforming almost every aspect of DevOps management, said David Messina, vice president of enterprise marketing for Docker. Right now, developers are leading the charge in terms of Docker adoption, but it’s only a matter of time before IT operations begins to be transformed, as well, Messina said.

Of course, for the moment, Docker containers are a Linux platform phenomenon, with Microsoft playing catch-up. But as Docker containers become available on Windows Server, the ability to port applications between Linux and Windows Server 2012 will be greatly enhanced.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.