DigitalOcean spins up Docker-powered hosting with CoreOS

The Docker-powered CoreOS distribution will make it easier to build scalable cloud apps

DigitalOcean, a cloud hosting company best known for its "droplet" virtual server system, is now using the CoreOS Linux distribution to offer Docker-powered virtual servers to its customers.

CoreOS uses Docker containers as an internal building block for the system, bound together with a few custom-built services. Clusters of servers running applications can be spun up or down quickly, with Docker allowing those apps to be handled with far less overhead.

DigitalOcean's sales pitch for its services has revolved around functions that ought to be familiar to users of cloud providers: high-speed provisioning, SSD-backed and KVM-driven VMs, and one-click installations of distributions or applications. What Docker and CoreOS add to all that, according to DigitalOcean, is an easy and fast way for "Web and mobile developers interested in working with Docker to deploy applications and experiment with containers." Those deploying applications that need high resiliency can use CoreOS to "deploy a cluster of servers configured to work with one another, ensuring their apps or websites remain live at all times."

Those two themes -- resiliency of deployment and deployment at scale -- were echoed by Mitch Wainer, co-founder of DigitalOcean, when asked about what CoreOS and Docker both had to offer DigitalOcean users.

"There's been a lot of excitement in our community and with developers in general for CoreOS on DigitalOcean for some time now," he wrote in an email. "It's the simplest way for devs to start using and experimenting with Docker containers and to start building out more resilient architecture, so it made sense to get their OS on our platform ASAP."

But CoreOS is not built along the lines of many other Linux distributions, so I asked Wainer whether DigitalOcean was able to make use of CoreOS as-is. "It wasn't as easy as a drop-in-and-go affair," he admitted in an email. "We had to rewrite some of our back-end codebase and develop a metadata service in order for CoreOS to do its provision time configuration work. All of the requirements were satisfied with the migration to version 1.5 of our back end."

DigitalOcean is far from the only cloud provider offering a CoreOS distribution. Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Rackspace Cloud all offer CoreOS as a standard-issue feature. Rackspace deploys by way of OpenStack, and the other two use their respective proprietary environments.

Though also a proprietary cloud, DigitalOcean has attracted a highly developer-centric community, most likely due to its convenient pricing (virtual machines start at $5 a month) and the easy on-ramps it provides for many common cutting-edge developer's technologies. Docker was originally one of those technologies, so adding CoreOS as a complement seems a logical way to build out the application-centric environment the company describe as its mainstay.

This story, "DigitalOcean spins up Docker-powered hosting with CoreOS," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.