Amazon Embraces Docker Virtualization

Docker containers gain a major new deployment target with support across the Amazon cloud.

The open-source Docker container virtualization technology is getting a major boost that could serve as affirmation of its practical utility and may also help to accelerate adoption.

In the cloud world, Werner Vogels is a person to whom many people look for guidance and direction. Vogels is the CTO of Amazon and has played a primary role in the evolution and growth of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform, and he's now supporting Docker.

Vogels doesn't just set direction on his own; he listens to what developers tell him, and developers have been telling him about Docker.

"The Elastic Beanstalk team spends a lot of time talking to AWS Developers, and in the last few months they've noticed a common theme in those conversations: developers tell us they're interested in Docker, and ask if we are thinking about making it easy to run and scale Docker workloads in AWS," Vogels wrote in a blog post.

The Elastic Beanstalk is Amazon's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology, providing developers and organizations with an easier way to deploy applications to the cloud.

With Docker support for Elastic Beanstalk, a developer can now directly deploy a Docker container to Amazon. Docker provides a different model of virtualization than the traditional hypervisor model, which requires an application to include a complete operating system. With Docker, an application rides in a container that can sit on top of an existing host operating system. In a video interview with eWEEK in 2013, Docker CEO Ben Golub explained that when deploying an application across a large number of servers, there is no need to take an application that is measured in megabytes, combine it with an operating system that's in gigabytes and run that whole thing on top of a hypervisor that is running on top of another host operating system.

The Docker container model is one that Amazon and its developers are now buying into.

"When developers asked us to support Docker in Elastic Beanstalk they described a 'best of both worlds' scenario: they love Docker's impact on their development workflow," Vogels wrote. "Packaging applications as Docker Images makes them portable, reliable, easy to share with others, and simple to test."

The Elastic Beanstalk support follows a move by Amazon at the end of March to enable Docker support on Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) instances. The Docker EC2 support is for instances running Amazon Linux, which is loosely based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Red Hat has been one of the leading backers of Docker and has been working with Docker developers since at least September of 2013. Last week, Red Hat announced Project Atomic as an effort to further integrate Docker into Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

The Docker project has accelerated quickly in a short period of time. The project recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and is currently working toward a 1.0 product release.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.