Cloud vendors are rushing to enable support for application containers on their platforms amid what appears to be surging enterprise interest in containerization as a way to improve application portability and delivery.
One example is Google, which this week announced beta availability of its Google Container Engine for helping DevOps teams and IT administrators more easily set up and manage application container clusters on its cloud platform.
Container Engine lets administrators define their container needs in simple, declarative terms, such as memory and CPU requirements. It then schedules the containers into a cluster and manages them automatically, Eric Han and Kit Merker, product managers at Google Cloud Platform, said in a blog post.
Enterprises can use Container Engine to manage Google's Kubernetes cluster management tool and to enable Cloud Logging for monitoring applications that might be running in a container cluster, the two product managers said.
Google's cloud platform customers will not have to pay extra for Container Engine during the beta phase. Once the product becomes generally available, Google will have two pricing levels for Container Engine.
For a "standard" application container cluster of up to 100 virtual machine nodes, Google will charge $0.15 per hour.
The company will also offer a "basic" cluster option for organizations that want to try out the technology. Enterprises that choose the basic option will be able to try Container Engine for free indefinitely on up to five virtual machine nodes. Those looking to manage more nodes or those who want managed uptime assurance will need to upgrade to the standard option.
Google this week also announced general availability of its Container Registry for storing container images on Google's Cloud Platform. The registry service gives organizations a way to store their Docker and other container images in a private and encrypted fashion in the cloud. The registry gives developers a secure location for collaborating on application development and protects private containers from becoming publicly available. Business customers in Asia and Europe will be able to store container images on systems that are hosted within their regions, Han and Merker said.
The latest announcements build on Google's effort to enable broader support for Docker containers as well as containers from other vendors on its Cloud Platform. Earlier this week at the DockerCon 2015 conference in San Francisco, Google joined a broad coalition of tech vendors in announcing plans for the Open Container Project, an effort to develop a new standard for container images and the container runtime environment. Also collaborating on that effort are Docker, CoreOS, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and many other vendors.
Under the effort, Docker and rival CoreOS will contribute code from their respective container technologies to create a common container image and runtime standard. The Linux Foundation is hosting the standardization effort and will oversee the development of the standard with help from the open-source community.
For cloud service providers like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, an open standard is key to their ability to properly support application container technologies going forward. Though Docker is widely considered the de facto standard in the container space, startups like CoreOS have begun emerging as rivals in this space. A common standard for container image formats and runtimes will give Google and other cloud vendors a way to enable support for containers from multiple vendors in the future.