Last Thursday, November 13, Amazon Web Services announced the availability of EC2 Container Service (ECS) to facilitate the management of Docker technology qua containers on the Amazon Web Services platform. The announcement represents another notable endorsement of Docker technology by a major cloud vendor that promises to continue catapulting Docker’s container technology to the forefront of the cloud computing revolution. Docker, recall, is a platform that enables developers to create and transport distributed applications. Docker streamlines software development by ensuring that applications housed within Docker containers remain unchanged when transported from one environment to another, thereby reducing the probability that applications which run smoothly in test environments fail in production. Docker’s container technology also introduces greater efficiencies with respect to the creation of applications by means of well defined parameters regarding application dependencies that enable developers to more effectively diagnose bugs and performance-related issues as they arise.
ECS enables Amazon customers to create clusters featuring thousands of containers across multiple Availability Zones. Moreover, ECS empowers customers to terminate and start containers in addition to providing scheduling functionality that optimizes the collective performance of containers within a cluster. ECS also allows users to transport containers from the AWS platform to on-premise infrastructures and vice versa while additionally providing deep AWS integration that allows customers to take advantage of AWS’s “Elastic IP addresses, resource tags, and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)” that effectively transform Docker containers into another layer of the AWS platform on par with EC2 and S3, according to a blog post by Amazon’s Jeff Barr. Amazon’s announcement of its EC2 Container Service for container management means that it accompanies Microsoft and Google in offering support for Docker deployment, management and orchestration. Google’s Kubernetes project enables Docker container management on the Google Cloud Platform, while Microsoft Azure recently announced support for Kubernetes on the Azure platform.
The bottom line here is that Docker’s ability to enable the deployment of applications within containers as opposed to virtual machines has captured the minds of developers and enterprise customers to such a degree that the most significant IaaS players in the industry are differentially announcing indigenous or borrowed support for Docker technology. The key question now concerns the extent to which Docker usage proliferates to the point where it becomes the de facto standard for the deployment of applications and whether its technology can support the convergence of cloud computing and Big Data in the form of data-intensive applications designed to perform analytics on real-time, streaming data. Docker users will also be interested in container management frameworks that inter-operate across cloud frameworks such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services in contrast to management frameworks designed for one cloud infrastructure as opposed to another.