Docker add-ons take center stage

By calling attention to third-party Docker add-ons in various categories, Docker's working to defray criticism of how its native solutions are often the only ones used

Docker add-ons take center stage
Credit: Loneqo86

Docker, the go-to-solution for software containerization, has courted controversy with how it has built out its product. Its "batteries included but optional" model means it includes components to perform many common container-related activities, such as orchestration and networking, with open APIs that anyone can use.

Functionally, this means that any "battery" bundled with Docker tends to become the default, with other solutions falling by the wayside. To address that criticism, Docker has been calling attention to the work done by its partners, with a second round of products just now coming to light.

Earlier in the year, Docker launched an initiative called the ETP (Ecosystem Technology Partner) Program to "highlight vendor solutions with solid Docker integration that [Docker feels comfortable] promoting to the community," as Docker put it in one of its first public discussions of the concept.

ETP has drawn attention in monitoring and logging, two parts of the Docker ecosystem that are only going to become more important as time goes on. In both cases, Docker exposes API sets that can be leveraged by third parties, and third parties have also created a variety of solutions to plug into those APIs.

new relic docker monitoring Docker

New Relic's Docker monitoring add-on harvests and analyzes statistics from Docker containers to gauge their performance.

Many of the names featured in the ETP roundups ought to be familiar not just to the Docker faithful, but also in the fields where they already ply their trades. Amazon (by way of Amazon CloudWatch), Graylog, and Logentries all have logging plug-ins, and New Relic, Sysdig, and Datadog have created monitoring add-ons.

Other ETP roundups in the future will cover security, networking, and storage -- areas that have all been given major boosts thanks to advances in recent versions of Docker.

Like many other successful open source projects spearheaded by a single commercial outfit, Docker runs the risk of becoming what some have described as "the new proprietary" -- a one-vendor open source production where the vendor ultimately calls the shots that matter, and where third-party products become fodder for being absorbed into the core. Several of Docker's moves through 2015 have been aimed at defraying that, such as the Open Container Initiative, for instance.

The ETP has the same flavor, although Docker's main professed benefit for the ETP is to give end users better awareness of what's out there. It's a worthy idea, but it remains to be seen if it gives Docker less or more incentive in the long term to roll third-party products into its own core offering.

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