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Docker updates focus on simplifying containerization for developers

Posted on: June 10, 2019, in Blog

Over the last five years, Docker has become synonymous with software containers, but that doesn’t mean every developer understands the technical details of building, managing and deploying them. At DockerCon this week, the company’s customer conference taking place in San Francisco, it announced new tools that have been designed to make it easier for developers, who might not be Docker experts, to work with containers.

As the technology has matured, the company has seen the market broaden, but in order to take advantage of that, it needs to provide a set of tools that make it easier to work with. “We’ve found that customers typically have a small cadre of Docker experts, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of developers who also want to use Docker. And we reasoned, how can we help them get productive very, very quickly, without them having to become Docker experts,” Scott Johnston, chief product officer at Docker, told TechCrunch.

To that end, it announced a beta of Docker Enterprise 3.0, which includes several key components. For starters, Docker Desktop Enterprise lets IT set up a Docker environment with the kind of security and deployment templates that make sense for each customer. The developers can then pick the templates that make sense for their implementations, while conforming with compliance and governance rules in the company.

“These templates already have IT-approved container images, and have IT-approved configuration settings. And what that means is that IT can provide these templates through these visual tools that allow developers to move fast and choose the ones they want without having go back for approval,” Johnston explained.

The idea is to let the developers concentrate on building applications, and the templates provide all the Docker tooling pre-built and ready to go, so they don’t have to worry about all of that.

Another piece of this is Docker Applications, which allows developers to build complex containerized applications as a single package and deploy them to any infrastructure they wish — on-prem or in the cloud. Five years ago, when Docker really got started with containers, they were a simpler idea, often involving just a single one, but as developers broke down those larger applications into microservices, it created a new level of difficulty, especially for operations that had to deploy these increasingly large sets of application containers.

“Operations can now programmatically change the parameters for the containers, depending on the environments, without having to go in and change the application. So you can imagine that ability lowers the friction of having to manage all these files in the first place,” he said.

The final piece of that is the orchestration layer, and the popular way to handle that today is with Kubernetes. Docker has created its own flavor of Kubernetes, based on the open-source tool. Johnston says, as with the other two pieces, the goal here is to take a powerful tool like Kubernetes and reduce the overall complexity associated with running it, while making it fully compatible with a Docker environment.

For that, Docker announced Docker Kubernetes Service (DKS), which has been designed with Docker users in mind, including support for Docker Compose, a scripting tool that has been popular with Docker users. While you are free to use any flavor of Kubernetes you wish, Docker is offering DKS as a Docker-friendly version for developers.

All of these components have one thing in common besides being part of Docker Enterprise 3.0. They are trying to reduce the complexity associated with deploying and managing containers and to abstract away the most difficult parts, so that developers can concentrate on developing without having to worry about connecting to the technical underpinnings of building and deploying containers. At the same time, Docker is trying to make it easier for the operations team to manage it all. That is the goal, at least. In the end, DevOps teams will be the final judges of how well Docker has done, once these tools become generally available later this year.

The Docker Enterprise 3.0 beta will be available later this quarter.

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