Microsoft Azure Streamlines Docker Container Management

Docker's spotlight grows brighter. Microsoft clears hurdles for customers who want to spin up Web apps using the increasingly popular virtual container tech.


Starting up and managing Docker hosts on Microsoft Azure is now easier, courtesy of new code that integrates with the cloud service's updated command-line interface (CLI) tools.

Now, Docker-enabled virtual machines (VMs) can be created by simply "running the command 'azure vm docker create,'" explained Ross Gardler, a Microsoft Open Technologies (MS Open Tech) senior technology evangelist, in a blog post. The result is streamlined Docker management on Azure.

"This means that we have eliminated the need to log into each Docker host in Azure separately; rather you can now run configuration commands for each host using the Docker client on your desktop or laptop," informed Gardler. MS Open Tech, the open-source-focused subsidiary of the Redmond Wash.-based software maker and cloud services provider, demonstrated the technology at the DockerCon confab in San Francisco on June 9.

Docker has emerged as one of the most buzz-worthy virtualization technologies of the past year and is riding high in open-source circles.

The traditional hypervisor VM approach requires that each VM run its own operating system. Docker, in contrast, places applications in their own containers that share the resources of the underlying OS, enabling a less resource-intensive method of deploying applications to multiple servers.

Ben Golub, CEO of Docker Inc., the open-source project's lead commercial sponsor, told eWEEK's Sean Michael Kerner that "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." Docker's leaner, app-centric approach eliminates the bulk of that overhead.

The year-old open-source project hit a major milestone recently with the June 9 release of Docker version 1.0. On June 10, Ret Hat released is flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 platform with Docker support.

Gardler outlined some of the benefits Azure Docker support has in store for cloud developers. Rather than have to maintain configuration files, developers can instead "create an image of their system and share it directly with their team," he said. "Any changes to local environments produce a new image that can be re-shared."

The virtualized container tech allows organizations to automate the development and packaging of apps, said Gardler. Additional Docker use cases include the creation of private, low-resource platform-as-a-service environments, and the deployment and scaling of databases, Web apps and back-end services, he added.

Docker paves the way for more agile, lightweight cloud application environments, suggested Gardler.

"By making Docker containers significantly smaller than traditional VMs, they can be booted/restarted more quickly, more of them can run on a single host and they are considerably more portable," he stated. "Furthermore, when capturing a new Docker container, the tooling only needs to capture the differences between the original and the new container."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...