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Windows Server container users: Mirantis is here to support you

On September 23, 2022, Microsoft will transfer support for Mirantis Container Runtime (formerly Docker Engine - Enterprise) to Mirantis. In this post, we’ll walk through what this means for you. For many users, this will mean using the Mirantis-supported Windows Server with Mirantis Container Runtime VM image, so that support, bug fixes, security patches, and licensing are provided directly by Mirantis, instead of through Microsoft as has been the case until now.

Why is this changing?

Although most users don't realize it, Mirantis has actually been providing Windows Server users with licensing and support for Mirantis Container Runtime already, albeit through a contract with Microsoft. Microsoft chose not to continue this practice, leaving responsibility for Mirantis Container Runtime licensing and support directly to Mirantis.


What exactly is changing?

Mirantis Container Runtime is a container engine that runs natively on Windows Server—meaning that it builds, runs, and manages containers on Windows Server installations. Prior to September 23, 2022, Mirantis Container Runtime (MCR) was the default container runtime in container-ready Windows Servers (such as Azure VM images for Windows Server with container functionality), with support coordinated by Microsoft as part of a support agreement with Mirantis, and backend support by Mirantis.

Beginning on September 23, 2022, Microsoft is deprecating Windows Server VM images with container functionality published under the previous support agreement. To avoid changes in functionality and support, organizations may continue to use Mirantis Container Runtime. This is highly recommended for:

  • Enterprise organizations that are building and running Docker containers using the Docker CLI with Kubernetes or Swarm orchestration
  • Organizations that need a higher level of security (FIPS 140-2)
  • Organizations running Docker Swarm on Windows Server

If you are using one of the affected VM images on the Azure Marketplace, please note that they will be removed from the Azure gallery repository as of September 22, 2022. If you are using one of these images with an Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template extension script, your current environments will continue to function, but automated builds will fail.

Moving forward, you will need to switch to the Mirantis-supported Windows Server 2019 Datacenter with Containers (Mirantis Container Runtime) VM image, which will be available on the Windows Server Marketplace very soon—we will link it here when it is available. You will also be able to use the Azure Image Builder to create a VM image with Mirantis Container Runtime installed.

Please contact us for information on the forthcoming image or to discuss continuity of support.

Why is this important for Docker Swarm and Docker CLI users?

Mirantis is the only vendor providing direct support for enterprise Swarm orchestration. We continue to expand Swarm with valuable features and functionality. Mirantis Kubernetes Engine (MKE) adds capabilities on top of MCR to better administer, maintain, monitor, and support the deployment of a Swarm cluster.

Mirantis Container Runtime will also be of particular interest to organizations using Kubernetes orchestration with the familiar Docker CLI for container management with a fully supported CRI compliant container runtime.

How can users get continued support for Docker containers on Windows Server?

After September 23, 2022, users of affected Windows Server with Containers images will need to switch to the Mirantis-supported Windows Server 2019 Datacenter with Containers (Mirantis Container Runtime v20.10.13) VM image, which will be available on the Windows Server Marketplace very soon.

Mirantis offers a range of enterprise-grade SLAs, including 8x5 support for non-production, and 24x7x365 proactive support and fully managed services for production deployments.

From a technical standpoint, Microsoft has announced that it will cease maintaining the MicrosoftDockerProvider repository, which provides a Docker installer for Windows. Instead, customers should follow these instructions to install Mirantis Container Runtime for Windows Servers.

Here at Mirantis we want to make this transition as easy as possible, so if you have any further questions, please contact us.

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