2015: The year containers upended IT

Few recent technologies have shaken up IT's possibilities as thoroughly as containers. Here are the major shifts over the past year

2015: The year containers upended IT

2015: Call it the Year Containers Broke.

Docker and its associated technologies went from cutting-edge curiosities to IT cornerstones, finding their way into most every cloud and every product that had "VM" in the name or product description.

Here's a glance back at what unfolded during the Year of the Container and why it mattered.

Everyone went container-crazy -- and we mean everyone

Most notably Microsoft, which shocked the world by announcing it would add support for Docker-style containers directly into Windows Server. But Linux players like Red Hat and OpenStack also reworked major parts of their product lines around containers.

Still, look no further than Microsoft being bitten the container bug for the best proof of how thoroughly containers reworked the IT world.

Docker advanced by leaps and bounds

Starting with version 1.5 in January and through version 1.9.1 in November, Docker has undergone drastic and dramatic changes. It reworked its networking features, took steps to address the problem of running Docker as root, added scores of new tools and ways to use them, made it easier to deal with storage, and revised the Docker Registry to allow faster and more convenient access to commonly used Docker images. Nobody could accuse Docker of standing still.

The Open Container Initiative opened its doors

With all the noise, heat, and light around containers, having their progress dictated de facto by one company -- Docker -- struck many as contrary to the mission at hand. Thus, the major container players sat down together and hatched the Open Container Initiative (OCI) to keep the process of developing the container world as open as the code itself. The initiative is still in the early stages and fraught with the internal dissension that roils any such standards-setting body, but that it was created at all is a step in the right direction.

Alternative approaches stepped up their game

Not everyone wanted to go with Docker's flow. Originally known for a container-based Linux distribution, CoreOS made waves with its own container format and runtime that claimed to put security and hardware-based resource isolation first. The company has since established itself as a key OCI member and stumped hard for new strategies to lingering questions.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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