The Docker initiative has been an amazing thing to watch.
Over only a few short years, Docker has taken a pre-existing technology (the concept of Linux containers) and built a massive ecosystem around it. In the process, Docker (the company, as distinct from the open source project) has built itself an incredible valuation that it needs to try and live up to.
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But that valuation, and attempt to justify it, are somewhat countered by the fact that Docker also relies on an ecosystem of vendors that all try to justify their existence. Thus the challenge remains: what should Docker (the company) do for itself, and what should it leave for third-party vendors to resolve?
Given all this tension, it is always interesting when the annual DockerCon rolls around. I'm not in Seattle this week for the event, but I am closely following from afar and have, as expected, been inundated with announcements and press releases from all and sundry making their DockerCon pitch.
Jumping on the 'helping deploy Docker containers at scale' bandwagon
First up is Platform9, which is jumping on the "helping deploy Docker containers at scale" bandwagon. Platform9 is an interesting vendor that is focused on taking existing infrastructure and wrapping a veneer of self-service goodness on top of it. Its pitch is that Platform9 makes private clouds easy for organizations of any size to take existing servers and deliver them as AWS-like resources.
Of course, many in the cloud community would howl in protest at the very notion that anyone can deliver anything even remotely AWS-like from on-premises servers, but I digress. In terms of this week's news, Platform9 announced that it is providing support for Docker containers by way of the company's managed Kubernetes offering. Kubernetes is, of course, the open source cloud-native orchestration platform that descended from the internal tools that Google uses to manage its own infrastructure. This high-credibility genesis of Kubernetes has gained lots of traction and interest since its release.
In terms of Platform9's take on this, its managed Kuberentes service is touted as an "enterprise-ready container management platform that makes it easy to orchestrate containerized workloads, while providing mission-critical features for deploying and managing Docker containers in production and at scale."
It's a smart play. Many suggest that Kubernetes is going to be the initiative of importance moving forwards, hence positioning oneself in the space is a smart move.
Why people like Kubernetes
The reason folks are bullish on Kubernetes (beyond the Google-reflected glory, of course) is that it meets a very current—and increasingly important—need. As developers consider containers for building next-generation applications, Kubernetes is the leader among a new class of container management frameworks they consider because it provides them with features such as service discovery, load balancing and application lifecycle management (ALM).
But for more traditional organizations, it isn't quite as simple. For those organizations, there are a host of other requirements, including single sign-on (SSO), role-based access control (RBAC) and multi-tenancy support for policy and governance, as well as persistent storage, isolated networking and image management. Further, uptime and stability of the deployment are critical. That is is where Platform9 comes in:
“For forward-looking organizations that are taking a containerized approach to applications for greater agility and efficiency, Kubernetes provides a powerful orchestration framework for DevOps workflows,” said Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and vice president of product at Platform9. “Platform9 Managed Kubernetes simplifies and supercharges orchestration with operational capabilities and service-level guarantees that make it quick, easy and affordable for enterprises to deploy and run containers at scale in production.”
By offering a "managed service" around Kubernetes, Platform9 creates a readily installed, repeatable and scalable offering that sits on top of bare metal. It also wraps it with the enterprise features such as monitoring and alerting, patch management and upgrading.
This offering also speaks to an increasing demand for unified management across containers and virtual machines. And I am seeing a rapid rise in vendors that are pitching this broad horizontal unification as their distinct value proposition. It's not about containers OR virtual machines; it is instead about supporting workloads using both technology approaches on a consistent platform.
Of course, Platform9 isn't alone. This broad horizontal approach to infrastructure support is pretty much the flavor of the month. The real question for Platform9 is whether they have a strong enough presence within enterprises to credibly pull off this broad story or whether enterprises that are likely to appreciate this play (i.e., organizations with more traditional, as well as more forward-looking, cloud-native, applications) are going to defer to a more well-known horizontal vendor.
Regardless of Platfrom9's ability or otherwise to capture this opportunity, expect to see much more of this "broad infrastructure management" stuff going on in the future. And expect to see more tension in the Docker ecosystem as Docker looks to capitalize on this opportunity.
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