CenturyLink Debuts Panamax for Docker Virtualization Management

The open-source technology aims to make Docker container deployment and management easier and less complex.

CenturyLink Container Virtualization

The open-source Docker container technology has continued to build momentum this year as a new way to deploy virtualized applications. Yet actually getting Docker up and running across multiple hosts, loading applications and managing the whole process can still be a challenge for some organizations, which is where the new Panamax effort comes into play.

Panamax is an open-source effort created by Century Link's Innovation Labs. CenturyLink is currently the third-largest telecommunications vendor in the United States.

Panamax provides a user interface to deploy, create and manage Docker container applications. As opposed to a traditional virtualization hypervisor like VMware's ESX, which requires each application to have its own operating system, Docker sits on top of a host system and applications don't need an additional OS.

The name Panamax is a play on the Panama Canal, explained Lucas Carlson, chief innovation officer at CenturyLink. "Panamax is the maximum shipping container size for a container to go through the Panama Canal; so it created standards for shipping containers," Carlson told eWEEK. "We are trying to create application standards for Dockerized apps."

CenturyLink had 11 engineers work on Panamax over the last nine months to build out the technology. Carlson declined to provide a specific number for the exact amount of money that CenturyLink has invested in the effort.

"However, I can tell you that CenturyLink has invested significantly in building the team behind Panamax," Carlson said. "And we have shared publicly that we are putting over $100,000 into the developer contest to adopt Panamax."

The Panamax developer contest is a challenge to developers to build Panamax App templates for Docker application deployment. The template is a way to take an application deployment configuration and enable other developers to reuse it for their own deployment needs. The goal of the Panamax Open-Source Application Template Library is to make it simpler to be able to deploy complex multi-container Docker applications from a single console.

"You can use Panamax as your build and deploy technology for greenfield Docker deployment, as well," Carlson said. "In fact, we hope that's how people end up using it."

From a management perspective, Panamax itself is not an orchestration layer like the Kubernetes platform started by Google or CoreOS's fleet technology. CoreOS is an open-source Linux operating system that has been purpose-built to be optimized for Docker container deployment and high availability.

"Panamax has drivers to support orchestration layers," Carlson said. "Right now, we support the CoreOS fleet, but in the next few months, we hope to have drivers for Kubernetes, Mesos and other orchestration technologies."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. 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.