ESXi vs Hyper-V – Could Docker Support Be Significant

By | January 30, 2015

Thinking out loud here….

Did VMware shoot themselves in the foot ditching Linux?

I remember wondering a while back whether VMware had shot themselves in the foot by ditching Linux and open source in favour of a proprietary kernel which allowed them to keep everything to themselves. Let’s not forget, when they did this, there was no Linux container madness, no Docker, and open source wasn’t changing the world in quite the same way as it is today.

Open source is where it’s at today

But now the world is crazy with container fever, Docker is leading the charge, and open source partying like it’s 1999.  And suddenly…. the world is a whole different place.  So…… if VMware had stuck with Linux and truly embraced open source, would they be in a better position to leverage containers?  Would vSphere be able to run VM’s and Docker containers side-by-side?

Is Microsoft coming in from the left field?

But hows about this for a bizarre possibility…. With Microsoft pre-announcing native support for Docker containers in the next version of Windows Server – and yes I know the detail is suspiciously lacking…. However, could Microsoft be about to ship a hypervisor platform (Windows Server/Hyper-V) that does VM’s and Docker containers?!?!?!

UPDATE: I need to point out that native Docker on Windows will only support and run Windows-based containers (unless of course Microsoft pulls something truly incredible out of their hat… which all-due-respect but I’m not expecting.

And if so…….. will that be a significant factor in the Hypervisor war and give Hyper-V an edge as we transition to a container centric world?

Isn’t Azure more significant?

Sure, I know that Azure and the race for hybrid cloud is gonna have its say in ESX vs Hyper-V….. But could native support for Docker containers be a significant factor too?  Native type-1 hypervisor, native Docker containers, backed by the Azure cloud…. sounds pretty decent to me.

Hang on…. this is all assumption!

ow this is all assuming Microsoft actually comes good on its hint of native Docker containers. Plus… I’m assuming that the Hyper-V role will allow containers and VMs at the same time (big assumption).

To me, it looks like it might be interesting factor in the hypervisor war.

Like I said at the top, just thinking out loud!

One last question…

One last question: If open source was rockin it when VMware was born, like it’s rockin it now….. would they have open sourced ESX?

Comments welcome.

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4 thoughts on “ESXi vs Hyper-V – Could Docker Support Be Significant

  1. Pingback: ESXi vs Hyper-V - Could Docker Support Be Signi...

  2. Pingback: Docker on Windows – Some Insight |

  3. Drew Northup

    Having worked on Plex86 (even if in a somewhat limited capacity) I know quite well why VMWare “flattened out” their software structure by moving to use a hypervisor kernel and not a hypervisor as a linux kernel module. It was plain and simple less painful for them to do so with their particular target in mind. For this to make sense you have to understand the differences in the ways that emulators and true virtual machines work, which is a graduate-level treatise (the way we teach computer science and software engineering today anyway) unto itself. (The mailinglist archives containing related discussions may still be out there…)

    In any case, as VMWare works the way that it does, one can always just run a Docker-hosting VM. If VMWare decides to ever get into the Docker business (adding support for it to VSphere) that is most likely the direction it will take, as doing so will just leverage its already existing product. Same goes for VirtualBox, should Oracle see some need to get into that part of things.

    As for Docker on Windows, don’t forget that they’re really just talking about facilitating building namespaces into the Windows kernel and providing a friendly interface for making use of them (what Docker already does for Linux). They are not talking about running Linux / Unix based containers on Windows servers. This makes Docker on Windows a fundamentally different (and not exactly competing) beast than Docker on Linux.

  4. Nigel Poulton Post author


    Thanks for your input Drew… from your comments I can understand why VMware made the move away from Linux for technical reasons. Though I reckon if it was invented today they’d either stick with Linux or make vmkernel open-source. But I appreciate that’s a totally different discussion.

    On your point about running a “Docker-hosting VM” to deal with Linux and Windows containers on top of ESXi… thinking out loud and on-the-fly here.. but that sounds like bodge to me. If Intel and AMD end up shipping native CPU extensions for containers etc then passing those through to containers inside of VM’s and the likes starts to look messy. I get that that is doable, it just doesn’t feel as slick as running Linux/Windows natively on bare metal.

    The whole approach of leveraging an existing product feels to me a bit like a corporate wanting to squeeze more cash out of an existing product rather than make the effort to develop something better – look at the legacy storage companies trying to shoe-horn flash media into their wares – they’re all starting to realise that a new product *designed for flash media* is the better way to go. Again…. just thinking out loud.

    And on the topic of Oracle… I think they’d just go with their fork of CentOS (I lose track of what they call it).

    And I’ve updated the article to stress that Windows/Hyper-V will only be able to run Windows based containers – thanks for pointing out that that wasn’t clear.

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