Data Centers

Docker announces Container-as-a-Service to bridge the DevOps gap

Docker recently announced the launch of its newest platform, Docker Datacenter. Here is what the news means for developers and IT professionals.

Image: Docker

For the few years it's been around, Docker has made a name for itself among developers as the brand that made containers more accessible and usable in application development. Now, the company is trying to leverage the value of containers for operations as well.

On Tuesday, the company announced Docker Datacenter (DDC), an on-premises platform for agile application development and management that is billed as a Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) solution. Docker describes it as an "IT-managed and secured application environment where developers can, in a self-service manner, build and deploy applications."

The DDC platform is made up of three distinct parts: The brand-new Docker Universal Control Plane, the year-old Docker Trusted Registry, and the Docker Engine. Essentially, it provides better lifecycle management for "Dockerized" application from their inception onward. In addition to management, it provides tools for security, orchestration, and container runtime.

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If you look at the entire application lifecycle for Dockerized apps, it starts with develops, likely using Docker Toolbox to build an application. DDC takes over in the shipping phase, providing security and collaboration and sees it through to deployment and scale.

In terms of management, one of the main value adds is a graphical user interface (GUI) that gives users better insight into what is going on with their applications. A proprietary GUI has been a long time coming in the Docker world and seems like great value add for the ecosystem. Scott Johnston, senior vice president of product management at Docker, said that there is no GUI in any of the open source tools.

Image: Docker
Underneath the GUI, DDC brings management of application images, clustered resources, and management of the applications that deploy on those clusters as well. For security, DDC provides security of images through digital signing, role based access control, and security of container runtimes. DDC offers role-based access control (RBAC), lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP), Active Directory (AD) integration, and single sign-on (SSO) as well.

Orchestration, Johnston said, merely refers to provisioning and clustering resources for application deployments, as well as scheduling and placement of workloads into those clusters. The applications are clustered on top of the runtimes themselves and, of course, organizations that are familiar with Docker can use its native product, Swarm, for orchestration.

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The portability of Docker means that Dockerized apps can run on any infrastructure. The only dependency is a Linux kernel, and that is a big part of the CaaS play that Docker wants to make with DDC.

"You can deploy these workloads on bare metal," Johnston said. "You can deploy them to VMs in the data center, or deploy them to cloud nodes—all without breaking the application or forcing a [rewritten] application."

The flexibility extends to cloud environments as well, with providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. The idea with containers is that you are able to write an application once and move it wherever you want, giving users the flexibility to drive workload placement based on business requirements instead of tech lock-in.

DDC has some rudimentary monitoring capabilities out of the box, Johnston said, but it still offers integrations with other products by companies like Datadog and New Relic if users need advanced monitoring.

Support will be sold as a subscription and available in two general options. The business day support gives support five days a week for 12 hours a day. The business critical support plan gives support seven days a week for 24 hours a day.

Docker DDC will be priced by node.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The new Docker Datacenter is a platform for secure application deployment and management that will give new tools to IT operations professionals to help them better manage Dockerized applications.
  2. The increased management, security, and orchestration capabilities will help administrators more easily make the case for Docker use within their organization.
  3. Docker's move to more fully embrace the operations side of applications could better position the company to take the crown as a DevOps powerhouse within the enterprise.

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Conner Forrest is News Editor for TechRepublic. He covers startups and enterprise technology and is passionate about the convergence of tech and culture.

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