Container convergence: Docker, VMware, and Google team up

Docker-VMware partnership lets Docker containers run on VMware infrastructure, with help from Google and Pivotal

Now that Docker has blown out the candle on its first birthday cake, the company and the technology alike are embracing more ambitious plans. Newest on that list: a partnership between Docker and VMware, for the sake of making Docker containers run better, with improved management inside VMware's infrastructures.

The partnership is a bit of a four-way dance among VMware, Docker, Pivotal, and Google. The first two are working together to allow enterprises to deploy Dockerized apps, both inside enterprise VMware deployments and across VMware's vCloud Air hybrid data center service.

According to Scott Johnston, senior vice president of product at Docker, the collaboration between VMware and Docker seemed to come from both sides at once. "We've been talking with each other for a while," he said in a phone interview, "and a result of us going to enterprise customers and hearing them say, 'It's great that you do this [with Docker], but I've got all this VMware stuff,' and VMware was hearing the same things from their customers, that they wanted to use Docker to accelerate the application pipeline."

To Johnston, collaborating allows the two companies to solve a problem that has consistently manifested in enterprise IT. "App developers would love to update and push many times a day," he explained, "while infrastructure teams want to lock everything down and keep it secure and not have to update every time there's a new version of Python out. Docker simplifies all that."

That simplification strategy for enterprises is the heart of Google's participation, since it's collaborating with VMware to further work on Kubernetes, its Docker-management project. A post on the Google Cloud Platform blog says VMware's contributions are around "[providing] enhanced capabilities for running a reliable Kubernetes cluster" and using the company's network virtualization experience to "simplify network configuration in Kubernetes clusters running outside of Google's data centers."

The fourth name on the list, Pivotal, is intriguing because it's a VMware spinoff that has built a following through its Hadoop and Cloud Foundry distributions. Its contributions (in conjunction with VMware's) will center around the libcontainer project, one of Docker's less-known but more critical components. Libcontainer goes a long way toward defining a standard for how containers work, and the plan is to add functionality from Pivotal's Warden project, which also provides an API for managing containers on Linux.

Docker's work with VMware, found on its blog under the label "Interoperable Management Tooling," is strongly reminiscent of VMware's efforts with OpenStack -- namely, adding "interoperability between Docker Hub and VMware's management tools." All of it hints at VMware's overall shift away from virtualization and toward management tools for both its own and others' technologies.

Johnston sees the collaboration not merely as a way to partner with like minds, but an incarnation of the next phase of Docker's work -- empowering what he described as "the new emergent enterprise IT architecture, that's going to take the old model of the stacks of the last decade and transform it into microservices."

This story, "Container convergence: Docker, VMware, and Google team up," 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.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.