Docker just made it easier to natively orchestrate containers

Container orchestration is in vogue

This week container lovers are convening in Seattle for the annual Dockercon conference and a major theme this year is how to manage containers at scale.

To kick off the conference Docker – the company that open sourced the popular container runtime of the same name and now sells commercially supported software for running containers – announced native integration of container orchestration platform named Swarm into its product.

Swarm has been an open source project for managing groups of containers, but Docker today announced that its container runtime will ship with an optional Swarm Mode.

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The main goal of this integration is to make it easier to manage groups of containers. The latest 1.12 version of Docker, which includes Swarm Mode, has a number of new features:

-The ability for Docker to automatically spin up groups of containers. Docker calls this “self-organizing, self-healing capabilities” combined with automated service discovery and a built-in distributed datastore.

-An in-memory caching layer that maintains state of the entire ‘swarm’ of containers; Docker says this is essential for maintaining scheduling performance during heavy load.

-A single application programming interface (API) that can be used to control all resources in the Docker swarm.

-For security, each Docker container is assigned a cryptographic identity “which ensures that only validated Engines can be accepted into a swarm.”

Container Management is in vogue

There’s a trend in the market to focus on management and orchestration of containers, and Docker wants to be one of the companies providing these services. Users have many options though.

docker whale @robvsmith on Twitter

A whale hangs out at DockerCon. Docker's logo is a whale. 

There are a variety of startups that offer container management platforms as well, many of which are focused on specific problems groups of containers pose. Companies like Rancher, Weaveworks and ClusterHQ each have their own take on managing containers, whether it be from a customized operating system developed for containers, taking a networking approach to containers, or managing storage systems for containers.

Then there are higher-level container orchestration systems, which are more closely considered competitors to Docker’s Swarm. Google’s Kubernetes, Mesosphere’s Data Center Operating System and CoreOS’s tectonic are all examples of these platforms.

Another option is to run containers in the public cloud. Providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform have native container management services for their IaaS clouds, for example.

In response to that, Docker today also announced Docker for AWS and Docker for Azure, which could compete with those native products from the cloud vendors. Docker’s argument is that by managing containers all within the Docker software tools that users can have a common container management platform between their on-premises and cloud-based applications.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.