Never let it be said that Amazon is falling behind in cloud computing. The newest wrinkle with AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a twist on a long-standing technology, Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon's application deployment and management system for all of its cloud services. Beanstalk has now been upgraded to support deploying and launching applications containerized through Docker.
Any Docker image can be deployed this way, whether from Docker's public repository or from one's own private store of containers. Users are left to create a .JSON file that describes the image to be used and a few other notations, and even that's not mandatory because an existing Dockerfile, as they are called, will typically work as-is.
Some additional configuration might be needed to set up external resources (a database to be used by the application, for example), but Elastic Beanstalk already has configuration options to allow deployment of a database to go with a Beanstalk-managed app. Amazon has posted a quick demo video on how the whole process works.
This isn't the first time Elastic Beanstalk has been upgraded to complement some groundbreaking or influential new technology. In the past, Beanstalk has gotten support for .Net applications (including Visual Studio integration), Node.js apps, and Python programs. Docker's explosive uptake in the cloud world over the past year -- it's hard to believe it's still barely only a year old -- seems to have all but guaranteed it a place at that table.
But to have Docker in this list is doubly significant, given that Docker isn't a language like Python or a framework like Node.js. Rather, it's a whole containerization system that can include just about everything else on that list and then some. Amazon's wise to add Docker to the Beanstalk roster, both because of Docker's massive uptake and because of the amount of heavy lifting it takes out of deploying solutions for which a simple EC2 machine image doesn't exist. As an application delivery methodology, Docker's benefits are only now beginning to be explored.
Back in 2011, InfoWorld's David Linthicum described Beanstalk's big boon as "Apache Tomcat on demand for supporting Java development in the cloud" -- in other words, a way to do resource scaling without having to actually do resource scaling and without having to get a separate bill for it. Beanstalk hasn't gotten as much recent attention as Amazon's newer, splashier services or the recent rounds of price cuts used to keep AWS competitive with the likes of Google and Microsoft. But if Amazon's bolstering Beanstalk with Docker, that's a sign Amazon doesn't want Beanstalk to be forgotten in the shuffle. It's also a hint of Amazon's eagerness to add cutting-edge technologies to its public service mix, and not simply use them on the back end.
This story, "Now AWS users get to deploy with Docker, too," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. 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 InfoWorld.com on Twitter.