Comparing Windows and Linux SQL Containers
Comparing Windows and Linux SQL Containers
Take a look at how the Windows and Linux SQL containers stack up, and what Linux containers might be missing that Windows has.
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By several measures, Windows SQL Server containers offer better enterprise support than Linux MySQL or Postgres containers. SQL Server containers provide more backward compatibility, and support for existing apps, storage arrays, and infrastructure.
Windocks has evolved as an independent port of Docker’s open source project to include database cloning, a web UI, secrets store, and other capabilities. These capabilities are customer driven, and seem to diverge from Linux mainstream development. This article takes looks at the capabilities being driven by Windows customers. Full disclosure, I am a principal of Windocks, and this article focuses on the Windows-based SQL Server containers provided by Windocks.
Windocks supports all editions of SQL Server 2008 onward, with SSRS support, providing container support for applications up to 10 years old. This reflects enterprise needs for modernization that isn’t limited to new cloud-native designs, and that doesn’t require wholesale changes in developer tooling. This contrasts with Linux DevOps initiatives that tend to focus on new cloud-native projects.
Windocks supports database cloning using Windows Virtual Hard Drives (VHDs). Cloning allows delivery of read/write Terabyte production databases in seconds, while consuming less than 40 MB of storage. This supports SQL Server deployment testing of scripts, database migrations, and application updates with production data, without impacting production systems. Standard Linux distros don’t support cloning, although solutions from Portworx and software storage systems offer similar capabilities.
Storage Array Snapshots and Clones
Windocks has worked with NetApp, Pure Storage, and other firms to include support for “any” storage array, in addition to Windows-based VHD clones. Older arrays are often redeployed to support dev/test, and Windocks “any array” support helps orgs that have grown through acquisition and have inherited diverse storage. Windocks declarative system supports complete lifecycle management of storage volumes, clones, mount points, and containers, that is easily managed by DBAs. Use of storage arrays is possible with Linux containers, but involves intensive script development, maintenance, and ongoing support from storage admins.
Database Clones for Containers and Instances
While container adoption is accelerating most organizations want support for modernizing development with a combination of containers and SQL Server instances. This is another capability that appears to be unique to Windocks, with database clone delivery for all Microsoft SQL containers (Windows and Linux), as well as conventional instances. We aren’t aware of similar capabilities by a Linux container engine.
Windocks includes an encrypted secrets store, similar to that included in Docker EE.
Web UI with User Auth
Windows developers typically prefer GUI based tools, and the Windocks web portal addresses this need. User/group role based access and authentication is included, and similar to that offered with the Portainer on Linux.
SQL containers on Windows is catching up to the Linux brethren, and surpassing in some areas, but cluster orchestration support is one area where support is lagging. By comparison, there is widespread support of Linux based containers for Kubernetes.
Either/Or, or Better Together?
We don’t share these observations to argue that Windows or Linux offers superior container support, but to highlight progress on SQL containers and to encourage use as a back-end to OpenShift, Pivotal PKS, and other Linux based systems. Practically speaking, the majority of SQL Server will continue to run on Windows for the foreseeable future, and Linux will be the preferred host for MySQL and Postgres.
Windows enterprises are emphasizing modernization for a mix of new and existing apps, with existing infrastructure, and DBA driven workflows. One criticism we hear regarding Linux is the complexity involved in multi-vendor (and project) solutions, and reliance on scripts for storage management.
Forward-looking organizations like John Hancock are leading the way, and reaping the benefits. You can start today by downloading the free Windocks Community Edition.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.