On Thursday, Docker announced the release in public beta of a suite of orchestration tools that enhance the ability of developers to manage containers used for the development of distributed applications. Docker Machine, for example, empowers developers to install the Docker engine on a host machine by provisioning the host and then installing the engine within that infrastructure. Docker Machine can provision containers on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Digital Ocean, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Softlayer, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Hyper-V, OpenStack, Rackspace Cloud, VirtualBox, VMware Fusion®, VMware vCloud® Air™, and VMware vSphere. Docker’s deep integrations with the most widely used IaaS platforms and technologies in the industry allows developers to deploy Docker containers using one command that takes responsibility for provisioning the host infrastructure in addition to installing the Docker engine. Meanwhile, Docker Swarm creates clusters of Docker engines and manages relationships between containers as an application scales. In addition, Docker Swarm gives developers a unified developer interface for managing multiple Docker engines and handles the scheduling of application-related jobs and processes as they relate to multiple containers. Finally, Docker Compose enables developers to manage a multi-container application using a YAML file that defines and updates the relationships between the various containers that collectively constitute an application.
Docker’s release of its suite of orchestration tools comes head on the heels of an announcement by Mirantis and Google to integrate Google’s Kubernetes framework for managing containers with the OpenStack platform, thereby enhancing the ability of developers to transport container-based applications from OpenStack-based private clouds to public clouds that support Kubernetes such as the Google Cloud Platform. One advantage of Docker’s orchestration tools in comparison to other container management frameworks is that they deliver a unified end to end experience for deploying and managing Docker containers. Docker Swarm, for example, integrates with the Amazon Web Services Container Service as well as IBM Bluemix Container Service, Joyent Smart Data Center and Microsoft Azure, thereby enhancing the portability of applications and enabling the avoidance of vendor lock-in. Moreover, Swarm works with third party orchestration products in addition to the orchestration services specific to different cloud platforms. In all, Docker’s Beta release of its orchestration tools in conjunction with its expanded roster of partner integrations suggests that Docker and the container management industry at large may well have cracked the nut specific to the transportation of applications from one infrastructure to another and by extension solved part of the cloud computing industry’s problem related to vendor lock-in. Meanwhile, container usage stands to continue skyrocketing as more and more vendors contribute to their ease of deployment, management and migration and collectively create a rich and venerable ecosystem for container use and portability.