Docker Datacenter Suite Advances Production Container Technology

Docker isn't just for hobbyist developers and early adopters anymore. Docker Inc. takes the wraps off a new commercial platform that enables containers as a service (CaaS).

Docker containers

Docker Inc., the lead commercial sponsor behind the open-source Docker container technology, is expanding its commercially supported product lineup Feb. 23 with the official launch of the Docker Datacenter platform. DDC builds on Docker Inc.'s existing services, including the Docker Universal Control Plane, which was first publicly announced as a beta last November.

"Docker Datacenter is a product suite that enables end-to-end application delivery, from the developer all the way through into production," Scott Johnson, senior vice president at Docker Inc., told eWEEK.

The DDC platform comprises multiple technologies, including the Docker Universal Control Plane, the Docker Trusted Registry and a commercially supported Docker Engine. The Universal Control Plane had been in beta deployments and is now generally available as part of DDC. What the Universal Control Plane provides is multiple management and deployment capabilities for Docker containers, including access control and resource allocation features.

Docker Trusted Registry, on the other hand, is an evolution of the commercial Docker Hub Enterprise product and was first announced in September 2015. With Trusted Registry, organizations are able to benefit from a commercially supported repository technology for secured Docker application images. Until the announcement of DDC today, Trusted Registry was Docker Inc.'s flagship commercial product; in a November 2015 video interview with eWEEK, Docker CEO Ben Golub identified Trusted Registry as the primary item that Docker's customers were paying for.

When Docker first announced the Universal Control Plane at the DockerCon EU event last November in Barcelona, Spain, the goal was to combine it with Trusted Registry to enable a commercial containers-as-a-service (CaaS) offering, which is precisely what DDC is all about, Johnson said.

With DDC, Johnson said Docker Inc. is providing what it is calling a CaaS model, where IT manages a user self-service platform. In his view, he said, the CaaS model fits in between what existing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) technologies offer. The idea of CaaS, however, is not unique to Docker Inc., with multiple vendors including IBM, Amazon and Rackspace offering their own flavors of CaaS. That said, Docker's approach to CaaS is somewhat different from other offerings, Johnson said.

"Amazon's Container Service and Rackspace's Carina CaaS are specifically focused on the orchestration of containers," he said. "That's an important part of the process, but in our view, it's only one part."

The DDC approach to CaaS extends from the developer to deployment, looking across an application pipeline. Johnson explained that the Docker Inc. approach to CaaS also looks at the application images to make sure they are digitally signed and authenticated and also identifies where the images are stored and promoted. As container application images are deployed to a server cluster, the DDC model also includes access controls.

"This is an emerging market, and lots of solutions are being tried out," Johnson said. "We'll continue to partner where customers tell us it makes sense, and we'll provide additional solutions where customers are asking for more."

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.