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Docker Advances Container Ecosystem

By Tim Clark

June 22, 2015

Wrapped in a love letter to software engineers, executives of Docker Inc. on Monday unveiled a set of new products and initiatives in a keynote at DockerCon, its annual conference for users and ecosystem members. CEO Ben Golub emphasized that Docker is transitioning into production environments.

Docker CTO/co-founder Solomon Hykes described three key themes behind the morning announcements:

  • Reinvent the programmers toolbox by “building tools for mass innovation.”
  • Build better plumbing for Docker application, an ambitious effort to simplify Docker.
  • Support open industry standards, primarily through a new Open Container Project  that has drawn support from many companies in the Docker ecosystem including CoreOS, a company with an alternative approach to containers.  (See related story.)

“Building distributed applications is too hard because the tools are not adequate,” said Solomon Hykes, Docker founder and CTO. “The developer experience matters.” He described Docker’s approach as “incremental revolution,” tackling each fundamental problem with a simple solution and then iterating. Among the announcements:

Docker Experimental Releases will release updated versions of Docker software before they are finalized or in beta coded for developers to utilize and improve.   

Docker Networking, built in part from its SockerPlane acquisition, will deploy code on multiple host machines running distributed Docker applications so they can talk to each other seamlessly. “The network should be part of the application, not the other way around,” Hykes said. (See Focus on Docker commentary.)

Docker Plug-ins, designed to improve extensibility of Docker tools, means that existing developer tools can be utilized with the Docker toolbox. “If your application works in Docker, it already supports every plug-in,” said Hykes.

Docker Plumbing Project, an “ambitious effort to simplify Docker” making code more modular and easier to use. Docker the company will spin out that project and give it to the Docker community while appealing to independent developers to help with the decoupling.

Notary: One of two initial elements of the Plumbing Project, this security technology is designed create a trusted, cross-platform system for content distribution.

runC, the second Plumbing element, is a lightweight, universal runtime for containers that includes just the run-time, not other code. Microsoft is contributing a Windows run time, giving runC and Docker  native support in both Windows and Linux.

On the standards front, Docker indicated it would donate runC to OCP.  Hykes also indicated that maintainers of the open source AppC specification (App Container Specification and Tooling) would also support the open source OCP.