It’s only really been two years since Docker came onto the scene, but in that time, the technology has leapfrogged other methods of deployment to become the hottest new thing in software development. Companies like CoreOS, IBM, Red Hat and massive telecom CenturyLink have all jumped on board the Docker bandwagon.
CoreOS, for example, acquired Quay.io in July, a Docker image repository company that helped users keep their Docker files in order and up to date. Red Hat announced new Docker-based products and across-the-board support for the tool and model earlier this year, and CenturyLink has just released Panamax, an internally developed open-source tool for designing and managing large-scale Docker deployments.
But why has Docker created all of this excitement in such a short time? Linux Containers are nothing new, but Docker has managed to gather interest for them in deployment at a rate unlike any other container tool.
Where Docker goes from here
Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS, said, “I think what’s going on is Docker made it really easy to package applications in a way that can be consistently deployed. That’s been a tedious thing until Docker. I think the uptake is just to get the ease of use, in a lot of ways. The principles have been around for a long time. In VMware, we call them virtual appliances. In Amazon, they’re Amazon Machine Images [AMIs], and they’re typically hard to build. But most infrastructure machines are Ubuntu using Chef or Puppet to turn it into what you want.
“On Amazon, with AMIs, you run the new version and shut down the old version. It’s great, but it’s technically hard to do. It’s better to write a Ruby script in Puppet or Chef. But now Docker made it easy, so people are going back to theoretical best practices, which is ‘Build a deployment for each machine.’ Now, everyone can do the best practice without that much trouble.”
Charlie Dai, principal consulting analyst at Forrester, said that Docker is deserving of the attention it is getting right now, but that enterprise adoption may yet be a ways off. At the moment, he said, Docker is more appropriate for DevOps use than for mission-critical applications.
But that doesn’t mean entire companies aren’t already reworking their internal infrastructure around Docker to get ready for the coming revolution in the enterprise. Codenvy recently rewrote its internals to support Docker in its test environments. Built.io has added support for Docker into its Backend-as-a-Service offerings. And CenturyLink is placing its efforts of offering hosted cloud environments to business customers on Docker, as well.
CenturyLink acquired PaaS company AppFog two years ago, and former AppFog CEO Lucas Carlson has become CenturyLink’s chief innovation officer. In that role, he spearheaded the creation of Panamax, a service description and templating tool to allow developers and DevOps teams to design large-scale, multi-tier deployments with Docker images.