DockerCon 2017 recap: Open-source Docker, storage solutions, and more

DockerCon 2017, the annual conference centered on the container industry, was held in Austin, Texas, and there has never been a more anticipated event in the enterprise. Microservice architecture is the hottest topic and for good reason: The shift to containers represents large disruptive update to application architecture. Docker already has an impressive success story. According to Datadog, Docker adoption has increased 40 percent in the last 12 months. At the beginning of March 2016, 13.6 percent of Datadog’s customers had adopted Docker, and this year that number grew to 18.6 percent.

DockerCon 2017 announcements

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DockerCon is about a lot more than just Docker. It’s also about the ecosystem and the tools built around it. Though Docker itself had only three major announcements, there were loads of exciting updates from other companies in the Docker ecosystem. Two new open-source projects announced by Docker were the Moby Project and LinuxKit. The first announcement is a bit confusing since apparently Docker has now become Moby. To explain things further, Moby is the new name of the open-source code that runs Docker. Docker co-founder and chief technology officer  Solomon Hykes explained it as “Docker is transitioning all it’s open-source collaboration to the Moby project going forward.” This was an unexpected development since it was only a few months ago that Docker was split into the Enterprise and Community editions, and this further rebranding hasn’t exactly got everyone excited.

Docker representatives stress that nothing will change for people using the Enterprise or Community versions; this is only for organizations and individuals who want to build specialized container software based on the code formerly known as Docker. The focus of the Moby Project is also to collaborate on interchangeable components, an idea they got from the shared car chassis model where users can elect to bring their own components and mix and match them to form customized container systems, Hykes said.

The next announcement was LinuxKit. It has been developed by Microsoft, IBM, Intel, ARM, and HPE, and is a set of tools that help enterprises build secure, lean, and highly portable Linux subsystems. Based on Docker’s experience building subsystems for Windows, Mac, and cloud platforms, LinuxKit lets users develop these subsystems using only the exact components that the runtime requires. Apart from being container-native, LinuxKit has a tiny 35MB footprint and requires minimal boot time. The container native approach makes it ideal to run on any environment including desktops, servers, mainframes, IoT, bare-metal, and virtualized systems.

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dockercon 2017

The third major announcement from Docker is a fast-track program that promises to convert a legacy enterprise solution to a containerized one in five days. This is an interesting proposition and could just be the extra push some legacy software users need to jump to the microservices architecture. This program is called MTA (Modernize Traditional Applications) and comes with a fixed price to containerize one legacy app in its current form. Docker uses the example of Northern Trust Bank, which achieved a 50 percent reduction in virtual machines by using containers.

Docker’s Scott Johnston stated that this is only the first step to modernization. He further explained that the next step to modernization would include the adoption of DevOps practices and tools that will give the enterprise the capability to add more services to its applications and increase its value. This new program is basically a quick-fix for enterprises who want to get a feel for a microservices architecture without messing around with the integral functioning of their code or applications.

Persistent storage

Now we’re coming to some interesting announcements from vendors that makeup the Docker ecosystem. StorageOS released a public beta of its developer license for Docker users. StorageOS is a software-based distributed storage platform, and the public beta includes access to storage volumes through Docker and Kubernetes plugins. It also features availability, high performance, persistent block storage, and policy-driven management via the RESTful API, CLI, or GUI.

The cool thing about the London-based platform is it can be used for any container with any orchestration on any infrastructure. This is very in line with what “cloud-native” applications are supposed to be with regards to cross-platform compatibility. Once beta testing is finished, the software will be released free to developers as part of the Docker store, which will give them the ability to run stateful, containerized apps with high performance, high availability, and persistent storage. The software is deployed as a Docker-certified 40MB plugin or container on 64-bit Linux.

Another storage announcement came from HPE’s newly acquired Nimble Storage and is called MultiCloud Flash Fabric. This offering is built for MSPs and system integrators who deliver enterprise solutions based on DevOps and modern applications. Built for all workloads, on premises, public, or in the cloud, this is an enterprise-grade persistent storage solution that doesn’t require any expertise to set up. Nimble is also a Gold sponsor at DockerCon, and the nimble Storage Docker Volume Plugin can now be downloaded from the Docker Store.

Microsoft announcements

Microsoft was a big part of DockerCon, especially with Northern Trust’s highlighting of their success with containers on Azure with Docker EE. A Linux container running natively on Windows server with Hyper-V technology was demonstrated during the DockerCon 2017 keynote. Top Linux distributions including RedHat, Canonical, Intel, and Suse are working with Microsoft on this project.

Another announcement from Microsoft is its partnership with Docker and the Docker community to ensure that Windows Server 2016 supports overlaying network abilities. This feature will enable IT admins to create a Docker Swarm cluster spanning multiple windows Server 2016 and Linux Docker hosts without separately configuring the underlying network fabric.

Mirantis released its Mirantis cloud platform that’s in essence a commercially supported distribution of OpenStack and Kubernetes in a single integrated package. Apart from expanding Mirantis OpenStack to include Kubernetes for orchestration, it also includes a comprehensive DevOps portal that displays StackLight visualization and DriveTrain configuration settings.

Announcements from the ecosystem and are two startups from CA Technologies that aim to make container tech easier for developers to deploy. is a visual tool that helps create and orchestrate the microservice architecture while is a developer tool aimed at simplifying Docker deployments.

Another interesting announcement was from Oracle that it’s working with Docker on releasing its middleware, databases, and developer tools through the Docker Store. This means users will now have access to containerized versions of Oracle Database, Oracle MySQL, Oracle Java 8 SE Runtime environment, Oracle WebLogic Server, Oracle Coherence, and Oracle Instant Client.

Finally, Mesosphere made a number of announcements with regards to milestones and progress it has made. Among those milestones were that over 100,000 clusters have been deployed by open-source users and 100 enterprise users, while four of the top largest banks and three of the top five cable providers in North America are powered by Mesosphere DC/OS. Mesosphere also announced that it’s leading a new collaboration for storage specification called Container Storage Interface along with Docker, Dell, Google, and Pivotal.

IBM announced it would make Docker EE available for Linux on its enterprise servers, which include Z system, LinuxOne, and Power systems. All in all it was quite an eventful DockerCon 2017 with almost all the big names rallying around microservices architecture and containers. With the success of containers and the increased number of options for enterprises to switch to containers, Docker is proving that it’s not just another hyped-up technology trend, but is here to stay.

Photo credit: Docker

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