Docker Opens Up to Support Kubernetes Container Orchestration

At the DockerCon EU conference, the container vendor announces that it is embracing the one-time rival Kubernetes container orchestrator.

Solomon Hykes Dockercon EU 17

COPENHAGEN, Denmark—There's been a lot of adoption of Kubernetes in the last few years, and as of Oct. 17 the open-source container orchestration technology has one more supporter. Docker Inc. announced at its DockerCon EU conference here that it is expanding its Docker platform to support Kubernetes.

Docker had been directly competing against Kubernetes with its Swarm container orchestration system since 2015. The plan now is to provide a seamless platform that supports a heterogenous deployment that can include both Swarm and Kubernetes clusters. 

"Docker adapts to you because it's open," Docker founder Solomon Hykes said during his keynote address at DockerCon.

Orchestration is what allows organizations to deploy applications as a distributed deployment, according to Hykes. Hykes noted that while Swarm, which is tightly integrated with the overall Docker platform, was built to be easy to use and has worked well in many deployments, not everyone uses it. As such, he said the overall Docker platform has restricted the choice for users who want a full Docker experience, as Swarm has been the default choice.

"I'm really excited to announce that the next version of Docker will support two orchestrators—Swarm and Kubernetes—surprise!" Hykes said as the audience erupted into a loud round of applause.

Kubernetes has emerged in recent years to become a leading platform for container orchestration. The Kubernetes project was originally started by Google and has been managed as a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project since July 2015. Multiple vendors including Red Hat, CoreOS, Canonical and VMware have commercially supported Kubernetes distributions in the market that have been directly competing with Docker Swarm.

The Docker embrace of Kubernetes, according to Hykes, is a pure open-source distribution taken from the upstream project. Docker is not abandoning Swarm, he said, but rather is enabling user choice by letting users run Swarm or Kubernetes, or both.

"It's not a fork, it's not a wrapper—it's real Kubernetes sitting next to real Swarm," Hykes said.

Hykes emphasized that existing Docker developers will not have to learn new Kubernetes tools. Rather, he said the next version of Docker will have a full Kubernetes distribution built-in, and developers will be able to use the same Docker tools they have always used alongside it.

"You can just keep developing and it just works, and if you do want to use Kubernetes tools, Docker is a good distribution, so you get the best of all worlds," Hykes said.

Docker EE

The Docker Enterprise Edition (EE), Docker Inc.'s fully supported commercial product, will soon offer the full suite of Docker management services for both Kubernetes and Swarm. Docker EE provides cryptographic node identity, trusted registry, full cluster life cycle, role-based access control and node segmentation, among other features.

Docker's Kubernetes support is currently in beta development and is set to become generally available in the first quarter of 2018.

"It's all managed with the same dashboard, so administrators don't need to manage different silos," Hykes said. "The whole stack is supported and certified end-to-end for Windows and all major Linux distributions, so you're never locked into a single operating system."

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.