Home » VirtaMove Blog » Running Applications in Windows Containers

Running Applications in Windows Containers

The Unintended Performance Consequences

The option of running legacy Windows Server applications in Windows Containers on WS2016 or on the new WS2019 has garnered lots of hype. Containers and containerization seem to be the “software du jour.” Before you permanently containerize Legacy Windows Server applications, it’s wise to understand the fundamental process of containerization as well as the security risks and performance implications that come with containers. Is containerizing Windows Server applications always a good idea?

Early, early days

Running containers on Windows Servers today is both new and complex. Have a look at the compatibility matrix here and you’ll see the complexity involved in the compatibility requirements between host OS versions and the core OS container versions, compounded by the additional problem of container versions running on Hyper-V. Daunting!

Windows container technology is in its infancy. Containers as implemented currently don’t support all features of an app. For example, there are significant User Interface limitations. Documentation on running Linux containers on Windows also appears to be at early stages.

In addition, if you containerize your Windows Server apps, you’ll need to consider performance optimizations around security, Active Directory (AD), and the use of antivirus (AV) software.

Containers and performance: the fat stack

Let’s focus on performance overheads of the multiple layers of software that you’ll need to run apps in a container. First, you’ll need a host OS or a hypervisor. The host and core Windows OS components of the Windows container share the host kernel (make sure they’re compatible). Other core OS software components mean additional overheads. In the hypervisor scenario, the Azure container runs its apps on OS kernel components inside the Azure container.

In both scenarios, you’ll need an orchestration stack (usually Docker), which might rely on Linux components, (so you might need a Linux server). You may also want to run Kubernetes for some microservices. Finally, there’s the overhead of the app itself. The app might be built as a microservice in the Windows container or, in the case of legacy applications, somehow installed into the Windows container. We’re not quite done: you might want to harden the stack with antivirus or security software, and implement authentication and user access control, given the recent security issues discovered around both Kubernetes and Docker.

Figure 1: Host Server Container Model


Figure 2: Azure Container Model

Wow. The stack is getting fat and performance overheads are high. With such a porky stack, app performance is bound to be an issue, and sorting out performance bottlenecks across stack components will be a challenge. You might well discover that it’s the Docker and the Year of the Pig in more ways than one.

Let’s imagine that you want to upgrade some or all the components of the software stack. What needs to be patched? The VM, the host OS, the core OS and Windows container, Docker, Kubernetes, Linux components, the AV or AD software, or the app? All the above? Maintaining compatibility will be an ongoing challenge. There’s also no easy way to install app patches into a container. Keep in mind that this fat software stack is composed of early adopter components, so you should anticipate lots of patches for all the software. Ready to sign up?

Production use of Windows Docker Containers on WS2016 or WS2019 environments is virtually non-existent today

Journalist Beth Pariseau recently wrote about the hurdles and caveats of Windows Docker containers (WDC). According to Pariseau, large enterprise companies in the early stages of Docker on Windows Server projects indicate the work “has not yet reached full production scale.”

Two years in, WDCs remain only partially implemented on WS2016 and WS2019. Notably:

  • User Interface (UI) capabilities are a work in progress.
  • As Pariseau states, “Docker Enterprise Edition’s manager nodes still require Linux hosts, which puts companies without Linux expertise in a bind.”
  • Dockerizing an app is based on application install scripts. ”You can run any application in Docker as long as it can be installed and executed unattended,” says a developer advocate at Docker. Therefore, you can’t install an application that requires a GUI at install time. A severe limitation for most legacy applications.

Application install scripts and source code are often missing. If available, they’re likely out of date. Using out of date install scripts means that the current state of legacy applications, with all their pre-installed patches and updates, is not captured or containerized. You’ve simply put the original version of the application in a box, not the legacy system version that is currently in production.

In addition, apps that are loaded into a container are permanently dependent on the container, there’s no easy rollback to a native OS install. Relying on the container as a destination means the app lives with management overhead, system overhead, and another layer of lock-in.

 Windows Docker containers won’t easily run WS2003 and WS2008 legacy applications on WS2016 or WS2019, now or in the foreseeable future. We’ve learned from experience many issues need to be addressed to make legacy Windows apps run in a container.

So, let’s go back to our original question: Is containerizing Windows Server applications always a good idea? Containers may make sense if you’re using containers for new greenfield application development or on mature Linux platforms. In this scenario you could leverage APIs, containerization, application virtualization, or a microservices architecture as a basis for new applications. However, using containers by default for legacy applications may not pay off given the performance and management overheads we’ve discussed.

There’s a better way: an automated, stateful, native re-install on the Host OS

Instead of permanently containerizing legacy apps with all the security, performance and maintainability issues in a WDC, you could consider an alternative: an automated, stateful re-install of legacy apps on a modern server and Host OS.

At VirtaMove, we use our own lightweight container for isolation and testing on a host server. However, there is no permanent reliance on our container: it can be removed at the end of the moving process. Free of the container, the legacy application can run natively on a modern Host Windows OS. This allows you to manage legacy applications using a conventional change management process and eliminate the permanent overheads of containers.

Benefits of an automated, stateful re-install include:

  • Closing known security exposures on old W2K, WS2003, and WS2008 servers as well as a step forward to modern Windows Defender versions on WS2016 or WS2019.
  • Eliminating WannaCry, NotPetya, and Vault 7 malware risks. New hardware closes Spectre and Meltdown exposures. Apps will run natively on a supported OS.
  • New hardware improves performance. New servers are scalable and run faster. You’ll get more work done with your existing apps.
  • Stateful re-installs allow apps to be split and installed on separate servers. Or, apps can be consolidated and installed on a single server. It’s a chance to reconfigure where apps run.
  • Software components, such as IIS and SQL, can be upgraded on-the-fly on new servers. New software components run faster, are more secure, and provide advanced features.
  • Application clutter is reduced, log files are cleaned up, unnecessary apps are eliminated, and you can run apps on modern datacenter VMs or on the cloud. It also reduces OS patch and container management and lets you manage servers with standard DevOps tools.
  • The life cycle of legacy apps can be extended. New featured can be developed gradually. You’re not forced into costly app re-development simply because you want to run apps on modern host servers.

At VirtaMove, we don’t need install scripts, developers, or app owners to learn and re-install apps on a Host OS. We automate the stateful installation of Windows 2000, WS2003, and WS2008 applications on new virtual machines and servers running WS2012, WS2016, and WS2019.

If you need to move forward with your legacy Microsoft Server applications or would like to understand more about what VirtaMove does, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are pleased to share what we know.

social position

Share this post

Comments (54)

  • Gisele

    I read this post fully on the topic of the difference of newest and earlier technologies, it’s amazing article.

    at 0
  • Elisa

    I just could not depart your website before suggesting that I
    actually enjoyed the standard info a person provide for your visitors?
    Is gonna be back continuously in order to check out new posts

    at 0
  • king855 test id

    Greetings I am so delighted I found your website, I really found you by accident, while I was looking on Aol for something else, Anyhow I
    am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a
    all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to browse it all at the moment but I have book-marked it
    and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the
    excellent job.

    at 0
  • Niagara XL Supplement

    I gotta bookmark this site it seems very beneficial extremely helpful.

    at 0
  • Tru Vita CBD

    Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future.
    Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    at 0
  • Slimingo Keto

    Heya superb blog! Does running a blog similar to this require a massive amount work?

    I have absolutely no expertise in programming however I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off topic however I just wanted to ask.

    Thanks a lot!

    at 0
  • Truvita CBD

    Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and
    include almost all significant infos. I would like
    to see extra posts like this.

    at 0
  • Mili-Tac Reviews

    I like this web blog very much so much great information.

    at 0
  • http://forum.adm-tolka.ru/

    I have recently started a web site, the information you offer on this website has
    helped me greatly. Thank you for all of your time & work.

    at 0
  • Ice Box Air Cooler Reviews

    Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a tough time making
    a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and
    Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking
    for something unique. P.S Sorry for being
    off-topic but I had to ask!

    at 0
  • marchegabonais.com

    I visited various blogs but the audio quality for audio
    songs existing at this site is actually fabulous.

    at 0
  • Rochelle

    I like your writing style truly enjoying this web
    site.

    at 0
  • Allura Fresh

    I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or
    weblog posts on this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this web
    site. Studying this information So i am glad to exhibit that I have
    an incredibly good uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed.
    I so much no doubt will make sure to do not omit this website and give it a look regularly.

    at 0
  • www.goldenanapa.ru

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.

    can you offer guest writers to write content available for you?
    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write concerning here.
    Again, awesome site!

    at 0
  • Crypto Advantage App Reviews

    Hello are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create
    my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    at 0
  • https://mpc-install.com

    You could certainly see your expertise within the paintings
    you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who
    aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

    at 0
  • Allura Fresh Review

    As a Newbie, I am constantly exploring online for articles that can be
    of assistance to me. Thank you

    at 0
  • Truvita CBD Reviews

    Great paintings! That is the type of info that are supposed to be shared around the web.
    Shame on the seek engines for no longer positioning this put up upper!
    Come on over and consult with my web site .
    Thanks =)

    at 0
  • Athena

    Hi there to every single one, it’s in fact a good for me to
    pay a visit this web site, it includes helpful Information.

    at 0
  • slot deposit pulsa

    I’m gοne to say tto my little Ƅrotһer, thqt he should also
    go to see this webpage on regular basis to get uρdated from most up-to-date news
    update.

    at 0
  • online bet site

    What i don’t understood is in reality how you’re now not actually much more well-preferred than you might be now.
    You’re very intelligent. You realize thus significantly in the case of this matter, made me for my part imagine it from numerous various angles.
    Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved until it’s something to do with Woman gaga!
    Your individual stuffs outstanding. Always care for it up!

    at 0
  • Air Cooler Pro

    Thank you for sharing with us, I believe this website genuinely stands out :D.

    at 0
  • Annmarie

    We still cannot quite assume that I could become one of those studying the important ideas found on your web site.

    My family and I are really thankful for your generosity and for presenting
    me the advantage to pursue my personal chosen career
    path. Thanks for the important information I obtained from
    your site.

    at 0
  • Gentille Revitalizing Moisturizer

    After exploring a number of the blog articles on your web site,
    I honestly like your way of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near
    future. Take a look at my website as well and let me know what you think.

    at 0
  • Dynamic Flex Nitric Boost Reviews

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating
    it but, I’d like to shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested
    in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    at 0
  • shop.gmynsh.com

    I ᴡas prett pleased to fibd this web site.
    I wanted to thank you for your time just for thіs
    fanastic read!! I deinitely appreciated every
    llittle bit of it annd I hhave you book-marҝed to
    look at new things in your web site.

    at 0
  • Crypto Advantage App

    I always was concerned in this subject and still am, thank you for putting
    up.

    at 0
  • Cryogen Air Conditioner

    bookmarked!!, I love your blog!

    at 0
  • spinfinity online casino

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as
    with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great
    blog like this one these days.

    at 0
  • IceHouse Portable AC

    It’s in fact very difficult in this full of
    activity life to listen news on Television, thus I just
    use world wide web for that reason, and obtain the hottest information.

    at 0
  • Alpha Extracts CBD Review

    Hi! I know this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does building a well-established blog such as yours take a massive amount work?
    I’m completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my
    journal everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips
    for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

    at 0
  • mohegan sun jobs

    Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed
    to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider
    worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit
    the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having
    side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.
    Thanks

    at 0
  • Https://Xe88Sg.Com

    Amazing things here. I am very happy to look your
    article. Thank you so much and I’m having a look forward to
    contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

    at 0
  • Air Cooler Pro Breeze

    When someone writes an post he/she retains the plan of a user in his/her mind that how a
    user can understand it. So that’s why this post is perfect.

    Thanks!

    at 0
  • download game epicwin

    I got this web site from my pal who shared with me concerning this web
    page and at the moment this time I am visiting this web site and reading very
    informative posts at this time.

    at 0
  • KetoRedux

    Great information. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book marked it for later!

    at 0
  • Slimingo

    Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice
    written and come with almost all important infos. I would like to see extra posts like
    this.

    at 0
  • Insta Frost Air Conditioner

    I’d forever want to be update on new blog posts on this site, saved to fav!

    at 0
  • xe88-app.com

    We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a new
    scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with helpful information to work on. You have performed an impressive
    job and our whole group might be grateful to you.

    at 0
  • 1 918Kiss Plus

    Highly energetic post, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

    at 0
  • Max Brute Review

    Just wanna remark on few general things, The website style and design is perfect, the articles is rattling
    fantastic :D.

    at 0
  • best casinos in the us

    Have you ever considered creating an e-book or guest authoring
    on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my viewers would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me
    an e mail.

    at 0
  • Ice House Portable AC

    I don’t even know how I finished up here, but I assumed this post used to be great.
    I do not realize who you’re however definitely you are going to
    a famous blogger should you are not already 😉 Cheers!

    at 0
  • theocratic.net

    I believe you have mentioned some very interesting points, regards for the post.

    at 0
  • https://countrysidetravels.com

    We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You’ve performed an impressive job and our whole group will likely be
    grateful to you.

    at 0
  • Ewan

    There is apparently a bundle to identify about this.
    I suppose you made certain good points in features also.

    at 0
  • Helio CBD Oil

    Dead indited subject material, Really enjoyed reading
    through.

    at 0
  • Max Brute Review

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Firefox.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something
    to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.

    The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved
    soon. Many thanks

    at 0
  • Max Extend Male Enhancement Reviews

    I got this web page from my pal who informed me regarding this web site
    and now this time I am visiting this web page and reading very informative articles
    here.

    at 0
  • forum.adm-tolka.ru

    Hello to every body, it’s my first visit of this blog; this webpage includes remarkable
    and actually good stuff designed for visitors.

    at 0
  • largest casinos in the us

    I’m not sure why but this web site is loading extremely slow
    for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it
    a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still
    exists.

    at 0
  • clubriders.men

    Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.

    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

    at 0
  • turkish coffee sydney

    pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before

    at 0
  • Mack And Sons CBD Oil

    Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was searching for!

    at 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.