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.
Docker today announced details of Docker Hub Enterprise (DHE), a product that delivers workflow and docker management capabilities behind enterprise firewalls. As such, the Docker Hub Enterprise expands upon the capabilities of the existing Docker Hub platform by giving developers a method of sharing and collaborating on Docker applications behind their organization’s firewall. Docker users subsequently enjoy an enhanced degree of strategic control and security regarding the development and management of Docker applications. Docker CEO Ben Golub elaborated on the significance of Docker Hub Enterprise as follows:
Docker Hub Enterprise is Docker’s foundation for establishing relationships with our rapidly expanding enterprise customer base, who view the Docker open platform as the cornerstone of their distributed application strategy. These organizations want a behind-the-firewall solution that enables them to leverage both the broader ecosystem and the more dynamic development environment that Dockerization has enabled. Our vision for DHE is that it will evolve from the place to share and collaborate on distributed applications to a strategic control point for both developers and sysadmins to manage all aspects of the application development lifecycle – from build through production – on any infrastructure they choose.
Here, Golub elaborates on the way in which Docker Hub Enterprise promises to emerge as the “strategic control point” for the management of application development that leverages Docker containers. Prior to the launch of Docker Hub Enterprise, developers and system administrators needed to amalgamate open source tools to enable the sharing, distribution and collaboration of Docker applications behind an organization’s firewall. Now, DHE enables the creation of multi-container, distributed applications that accommodate the application lifecycle workflow requirements and protocols of Docker applications. Moreover, developers will continue to enjoy the ability to create distributed applications dispersed over multiple Docker containers by taking advantage of the functionality of Docker repositories and services hosted on the Docker hub.
Docker Hub Enterprise will be delivered through Docker Authorized Partners. At launch, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM will render DHE available to their customers. Microsoft and Amazon Web Services will make DHE available through the Azure marketplace while Amazon Web Services will make Docker available through AWS Test Drives and AWS Quick Start Reference Deployments. The AWS Test Drives and AWS Quick Start Reference Deployments allow customers to explore software applications and architectures at no cost before incorporating them into their production-grade application deployments. Meanwhile, IBM will deliver DHE as a cloud-based and on-premise solution. The announcement of Docker Hub Enterprise comes in conjunction with news of the availability of a platform of orchestration services that facilitate the management of multi-container applications in recognition of the evolving need to manage and orchestrate large numbers of containers across multiple host environments and infrastructures. The combination of Docker Hub Enterprise with Docker’s newly announced orchestration services underscores the paradigm shift in application development away from the creation of persistent applications on servers or VMs toward distributed applications constituted by discrete components housed within interoperable containers. Docker’s orchestration platform is amongst the most comprehensive in the market today and responds to the cottage industry of products and services focused around container management. Docker Hub Enterprise will be available for early access in February 2015.
Artificial intelligence vendor Sentient Technologies recently announced the finalization of $103.5M in Series C funding in a round led by Tata Communications (Hong Kong), existing investor Horizons Ventures and a group of private investors. Sentient’s technology features an artificial intelligence and machine learning platform that operates on distributed datasets to develop actionable business intelligence from disparate, asynchronous data sources. The company’s patent pending technology has thus far been used to develop analytic insights in the financial and healthcare industries. Sentient differentiates itself in the artificial intelligence space by way of its unique ability to scale to process artificial intelligence jobs on millions of nodes in parallel.
Vinod Kumar, MD and CEO of Tata Communications, the company that led the Series C round, remarked on the significance of Sentient Technologies as follows:
As an investor, we share a common vision on the transformative force that massively distributed computing and artificial intelligence can play in helping businesses get insights and solve their most complex big data problems. We see Sentient at the forefront of these technologies and bringing a disruptive approach to cloud based computing services. Furthermore, the scale of our leading global network infrastructure and data center footprint also complements Sentient’s growth plans and will enable its global deployment.
Here, Kumar positions Sentient Technologies as contributing to the “transformative force that massively distributed computing and artificial intelligence” currently plays in revolutionizing the way in which businesses manage big data analytics. Sentient delivers a “disruptive” approach to cloud-based distributed artificial intelligence that benefits from its collaboration with Tata’s global data center and network infrastructure. As such, Sentient participates in a resurgence of artificial intelligence technologies as evinced by IBM’s $100M venture fund in Watson supercomputing, Google’s acquisition of DeepMind technologies for $500M and early stage artificial intelligence startups such as Wit.ai, Idibon, Expect Labs and Prediction IO. Given that Sentient’s Series C funding represents the largest venture round funding investment in an artificial intelligence startup to date, the industry should expect more details of its technology platform and product roadmap to emerge in upcoming months. Sentient’s platform differentiates by way of its distributed artificial intelligence technology and massive ability to scale, although details of its predictive analytics and data management technology have yet to emerge. For now, however, the bottom line is that AI is hot both for investors and prospective customers that are increasingly interested in leveraging iterative machine learning technologies into business operations.
Today, Kaseya announces the general availability of Kaseya Traverse, its SaaS cloud monitoring solution for on premise, private cloud and public cloud environments. The uniqueness of Kaseya Traverse consists of its ability to “traverse” a multitude of cloud infrastructures while delivering centralized, integrated reporting for the entire ecosystem in question. Whereas proprietary cloud monitoring solutions such as CloudWatch by Amazon Web Services deliver performance reporting and monitoring solutions specific to their own, native cloud infrastructure, Kaseya Traverse can be configured to monitor a heterogeneous cloud environment marked by the coexistence of several hosting technologies and platforms. The Kaseya solution provides a diverse range of performance monitoring and analytics on hardware, networks, applications and usage patterns as illustrated by the dashboard below:
Kaseya leverages an architecture designed for distributed analytics, data processing and data gathering that fittingly corresponds to the task of monitoring the infrastructures of dispersed, heterogeneous IT environments. The platform features SLA monitoring, issue identification and resolution with respect to application performance and machine learning-based analytics that identify true anomalies in traffic or usage related patterns as opposed to organic variations and cycles. Given that the current state of enterprise cloud computing almost invariably features some combination of on premise, private cloud and public cloud deployments, Kaseya Traverse is likely to be well received by customers that are seeking a centralized monitoring, reporting and analytics solution in contrast to an amalgamation of discrete reporting applications. Moreover, its ease of deployment as a SaaS application and distributed computing capabilities render it a particularly attractive cloud monitoring tool insofar as its architecture is designed with the specific needs of heterogeneous cloud computing environments in mind.
On Monday, Database as a Service vendor Cloudant announced plans to integrate its database service, BigCouch, into the Apache CouchDB project. BigCouch is an open source fork of CouchDB designed to support large-scale, distributed applications. The integration of BigCouch with CouchDB will provide CouchDB with enhanced scalability and performance in a move that is likely to accelerate adoption of the NoSQL CouchDB platform. In conjunction with its decision to integrate BigCouch into CouchDB, Cloudant announced that it will cease development of the BigCouch platform that was inspired by Amazon’s famous Dynamo research paper.
CouchDB will benefit principally from the clustering functionality that became one of the trademarks of BigCouch. Unlike CouchDB, BigCouch nodes reside in elastic clusters marked by consistent hashing, quorum rules for read/write operations and parallel indexing on data partitions as illustrated by the three node BigCouch development cluster below, in contrast to the unified CouchDB configuraton at the top of the picture:
Graphic source: Cloudant’s BigCouch is open-source
Parallel indexing across clusters allows the BigCouch configuration to demonstrate significant improvements in indexing speed in comparison to serial indexing of one database. CouchDB will also benefit from BigCouch’s database compaction functionality, replication speed and high-concurrency access performance.
Adam Kocoloski, co-founder and CTO at Cloudant, remarked on the merging of BigCouch with CouchDB as follows:
There are a lot of reasons people love CouchDB, like its elegant programming model, data durability, flexible indexing, and, most of all, its unique way of replicating and synching data across data centers or devices. We’re merging the horizontal scaling and fault-tolerance framework we built for BigCouch into CouchDB so people can more easily scale all that CouchDB goodness across multiple servers and keep it running nonstop. It’s our way of saying thanks and helping to grow the community of CouchDB developers and users.
Interested users can access a preview of the merger of CouchDB and BigCouch now, although the generally available version of the integrated database as a service will be released in conjunction with the release cycles of the Apache Foundation’s code release process. The integration of these two open source platforms represents a significant boost to the NoSQL community as options in the NoSQL space continue to proliferate and deepen in functionality as exemplified by Garantia’s recent acquisition of MyRedis.