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Docker and Kubernetes: Breaking the Proprietary Mindset

Arthur Cole

Containers are said to be the linchpin of both future cloud and IoT infrastructure, but if the IT industry is not careful, it could wind up with the same disjointed, silo-based environments that currently hamper operations in the data center.

This is why Docker’s recent announcement that it will support the Kubernetes orchestration stack is such a big deal. For the past few years, it appeared we would have another Apple vs. Microsoft on our hands, only this time it would be Docker vs. Google. Docker is the leading container solution and Kubernetes, developed by Google, has emerged as the leading management stack, but as long as Docker gave preference to its own Swarm platform, it was very difficult for organizations to craft streamlined, integrated container ecosystems across distributed architectures.

This all changes with Kubernetes running side-by-side with Swarm, particularly since this seems to be a true integration and not just grudging acceptance of source code. As eWeek’s Sean Michael Kerner notes, the next version of Docker will have a built-in full distribution of Kubernetes, which means developers will be able to work with the familiar Swarm tools along with new Kubernetes tools under the same management dashboard.

Kubernetes also gives Docker users another means to integrate their container infrastructure with the growing open-source cloud ecosystem. The Linux Foundation’s Cloud Foundry PaaS project recently added native Kubernetes support through its new Kubo arrangement with Pivotal and Google. According to TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois, this will allow dev/ops teams to build and orchestrate Kubernetes clusters by integrating existing application runtime capabilities with Kubernetes container runtime under a single framework. When it comes to deploying and managing services and microservices in the cloud and the IoT, the last thing the enterprise needs is discrete management stacks for individual executable functions.


For Linux developers like SUSE, enhanced ties between their existing Kubernetes solutions and a proprietary system like Docker can only be good news. The company recently introduced new Container as a Service solutions to supplement its PaaS and IaaS clouds, and the ability for enterprises to manage these deployments under the same structure they use for their Docker environments removes a major obstacle in the drive to accumulate shares of the containerized workload. At the same time, it gives enterprises the ability to deploy container platforms based on their operational merits, not the dependencies of a locked-in vendor solution.

Meanwhile, devops platform providers have been working to overcome the discrepancies between Kubernetes and Docker for some time, so how will this new arrangement affect them? Just last month, Puppet acquired a company called Distelli that provides a continuous delivery solution featuring a Kubernetes distribution, a module for managing virtual machines and a Docker container registry. The idea is to give developers a means to support all types of virtual infrastructure across data center, cloud and IoT infrastructure. No matter what happens between Docker and Kubernetes, this is still a valuable tool for developers because it gives them more direct control over the operations side. And as long as Docker and Kubernetes remain on friendly terms, future versions of the software should become more streamlined.

In a broader sense, Docker’s acceptance of a third-party management stack reflects the vast difference between today’s digital enterprise and the ones that suffered through so many rivalries in the past. No one can hope to fully own a new operating paradigm anymore. Whether we are looking at operating systems, the virtual layer, cloud platforms, containers or whatever comes next, cooperation is now the key to success.

In a world where data is king, any vendor who tries to carve out its own cyber fiefdom will find itself alone and unloved.

Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.


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