Windocks is growing rapidly and we regularly review the business to guide our planning. We also compare the business to others, and the recent MongoDB S-1 yielded interesting points of similarity.

Windocks was the first implementation of Docker’s open source for Windows, released in April of 2016. Windocks featured support for Windows Server 2012 (in addition to Server 2016), and the full SQL Server family (SQL Server 2008 onward). Earlier this year we were the first to combine database cloning with containers. Customers love the combination, with delivery of Terabyte class databases in seconds for Dev/Test and Reporting. Database clones support full read and write operations, with minimal storage requirements. Windocks also sets a new level of affordability, with support for 10 Developers costing just $169/month.

Now, customers are asking Windocks to deliver a new, modern, open platform for creation, management, and delivery of enterprise data environments. This area has been served by vendors with expensive, complex, Solaris UNIX based systems, so it’s not surprising that customers are asking for an alternative. In this “status report” we share how the Windocks business has evolved since our launch, and share upcoming plans.

Trends in enterprise adoption of SQL Server containers and clones

Customer needs:industry surveys highlight how the poor access to database environments blocks efficient software development. Database environments for Dev/Test are commonly updated bi-weekly or less, and testing is inhibited by limited access. The result is limited testing against the back-end, and stressful and problematic releases. The need is great for improved delivery of enterprise data environments.

While access to and delivery of data environments is the foremost need, there are growing concerns for Data Governance and Regulatory Compliance. How do auditors ascertain whether data environments are being properly prepared and used? Fortunately, Windocks provides an industry-leading solution with a data image repository, providing a versioned, auditable repository of data images used within the enterprise.

US vs ROW: when Windocks released we were surprised by greater interest overseas than in the US. Half of Windocks customers today are located overseas, which is remarkable considering that we haven’t traveled outside of the United States. Fortunately, interest in the US is catching up, and is on par with the Rest of the World.

Demographics: adoption of new tooling and processes is simple for small businesses, where a team can implement container based development and test on a single server. Large enterprises, on the other hand, often have teams assigned to drive new tool selection and process development. The result is an interesting skewed composition of customers, which is comprised of a mix of small businesses and large enterprises, with mid-sized orgs under-represented. To be fair, the under-representation of mid-sized organizations may reflect our current direct sales and service model, in a market where third party solution providers are important.

Enabling DBAs: Windocks is designed to automate infrastructure (particularly storage) as part of a SQL Server DBA workflow, simplifying what has previously required storage administrator involvement. A complex enterprise data environment can be comprised of 50 or more databases, and the data image is built with a single command or click on the Windocks web UI. To make this work, the product must be rock solid, with few support issues. We’ve achieved this beyond our expectations. Apart from the normal “getting started” learning curve, the product operates without problems. This helps explain how Windocks has been adopted by businesses around the globe.

Verticals: Windocks is being used in almost all markets, with greatest usage in Financial Services, Healthcare, Technology, and surprisingly Governments (local, state, and larger). SaaS providers that utilize SQL Server are particularly drawn to Windocks for efficient SQL Server support.

Licensing: Windocks is available with a simple monthly subscription model, modeled after cloud consumption. Interestingly, many enterprise customers object to this approach, and we have adjusted to accommodate traditional Purchase Orders as well.

All customers realize a new level of affordability with Developers working with enterprise data environments for just over $15/month!

Cloud native vs Legacy: a big advantage offered by Windocks is immediate value for virtually any SQL Server project, whether “cloud native” or “legacy.” The majority of Windocks is used with existing (legacy) projects.

Public Cloud vs on premise: as a Windows solution, Windocks runs wherever Windows Servers are supported. Customers use Windocks on the major public clouds, and on premise or private cloud infrastructure. Reflecting current usage of SQL Server, the majority use Windocks on premise.

SQL Server or multi-tier: Windocks is focused first and foremost on addressing enterprise data environment needs, and is adopted primarily for SQL Server support, but most customers also use containers for delivery of two and three tier application environments, including .NET, Java, and other front-end and middle-tier technologies. One benefit of containers is multi-tier application support.

Continuous Integration: sophisticated customers have implemented Windocks with Jenkins, TeamCity, and other CI server workflows, but most organizations are not there yet. Windocks is a great tool for DevOps focused consultancies.

Customer feedback on value: one of the interesting aspects of the business is how customers perceive business value. All recognize the speed of environment delivery, and DBAs love the ability to deliver production data environments for Dev/Test. Managers often focus on cost savings, from an average 5:1 reduction in VMs used. More sophisticated leaders recognize that the strategic value of increasing software release frequency, and shipping higher quality software.

Regardless of the perspective, customers agree that the reduction in VMs and the associated license and maintenance costs more than offsets the monthly Windocks cost. ROI is immediate.

Looking Ahead:

Windocks was founded on the belief that Docker’s technology could transform modern software development. We now know this to be true, and our customers are reaping the benefits of immediate availability of SQL Server containers with enterprise data environments.

Going forward, Windocks will support cluster deployments with orchestration based on Kubernetes, Mesos, and Docker Swarm. The management framework is growing to deal with hundreds (thousands) of data images, job scheduling, and other challenges.

Based on customer needs we’re expanding support of database cloning to MySQL, DB2, and other environments, with delivery to any application environment, including Microsoft’s SQL Server containers, conventional SQL Server instances, or Windocks containers.

We’re also excited to be adding enterprise dashboards and reporting, to provide teams and management with insights to the system performance and usage.

Explore the use of a modern, open data delivery platform

It’s been an interesting journey, with Windocks starting as a container engine based on Docker’s open source, then evolving into a Windows based database cloning service, and now we are taking a final step to become an open, enterprise data delivery platform.

It’s time for Windows based development to catch up with the Linux world, and Windocks is doing our part to provide a leg up with advanced database cloning and delivery. We encourage SQL Server DBAs and Developers to explore these new methods with the Windocks Community Edition, a free download is available here.

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