Google does Docker better with Kubernetes-powered Container Engine

Google builds Container Engine around the Kubernetes Docker container orchestration project, complete with an open source infrastructure

When Google announced its Kubernetes project for orchestrating Docker containers, it was only a matter of time before a cloud provider, Google or otherwise, decided to make it into a feature and charge for it.

Sure enough, Microsoft Azure added Kubernetes support in short order. Now, Google has made Kubernetes a full-blown -- and perhaps, eventually, for-pay -- part of Google Cloud Platform with Google Container Engine.

In a blog post released on Tuesday, Brian Stevens, VP of Product Management, described Google Container Engine as a way to free IT from the hassle of VMs. He said it lets you "move from managing application components running on individual virtual machines to launching portable Docker containers that are scheduled into a managed compute cluster for you."

Container Engine builds on and extends the concepts established by Kubernetes. A number of VM instances, called nodes, are grouped in clusters that can run Dockerized versions of a given application at scale. Container Engine handles all the spinning up and spinning down of app instances across the cluster, including load balancing and communication between containers.

According to Google, Container Engine's open source design delivers a fringe benefit of less lock-in for prospective customers. This "[makes] it easy to move applications between development machines, on-premise systems, and public cloud providers," said Stevens in his blog post.

It's easy to say Google is trying to play up Cloud Platform's appeal by basing new features on open source infrastructure, but that's only half the picture. Google clearly plans to give people incentive to deploy on Cloud Platform over any other vendor deploying the same open source pieces, since many others will likely do the same, from Microsoft on down.

The other new announcements included Managed VMs for App Engine (unveiled as a technology preview earlier this year), the public beta of Google Cloud Debugger for better debugging services for cloud apps, and Cloud Interconnect for carrier-grade connections between private infrastructure and Google's own.

To top it all off, Google threw in a round of price cuts across the board for Cloud Engine services, including a 47 percent price cut on network egress charges and a 79 percent reduction in the cost of persistent disk snapshots. As for Container Engine, there's no additional charge for using it during the alpha phase for the product, although it seems wise for Google to monetize so useful a product in the long run.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.