Canonical offers direct Docker support to Ubuntu users

Already have a Canonical support contract? Docker saves you a step by using Ubuntu's app delivery tech

Enterprise Ubuntu users running Docker in production now have a new source for Docker support: from Canonical.

Earlier today, Canonical and Docker announced joint support for the commercial edition of Docker Engine on Ubuntu. The pair also will provide updates for Docker on Ubuntu through an application delivery system Canonical originally devised.

Out of the box and into your hands

This isn't first time Docker has partnered with an enterprise vendor to offer support. HP Enterprise, for example, includes support with its Docker-ready hardware and software products, and Microsoft offers the same as part of the out-of-the-box enterprise experience for the new version of Windows Server.

David Messina, SVP Product and Corporate Marketing of Docker, cited a "large, positive overlap of enterprise users that use Ubuntu [and] that use Docker" as a key motive. "We see a significant install base of Ubuntu users using Docker, and we collectively thought this was a great relationship, but not the only one of its kind."

Docker and Canonical also allow customers the choice of whichever support channel they're most comfortable with. If a company already has a relationship with Docker, it can use that. If it's already a Canonical customer, it can employ its existing Canonical service contract.

Messina noted that whatever the channel, the quality of the support is fundamentally the same; the differences mostly amount to the delivery mechanism. "The only difference [between support from Canonical and Docker] is that Level 1 and Level 2 support comes directly from Canonical engineers, who obviously have been cross-trained by Docker to provide that support." Any issues beyond that, such as bug fixes, are supplied directly from Docker.

Options, not contradictions

Observers might wonder why Canonical is strengthening Docker support when it already has a container-style technology, LXD, that's a mix between the speed and convenience of containers and the isolation of VMs. In Messina's view, the two technologies are more complementary than competitive.

"LXD is focused on environments where people are looking at alternatives to the existing hypervisor," said Messina. "LXD provides a more efficient way to perform machine management, effectively at a VM level." Applications, containerized or not, can run on top of LXD. To that end, LXD is more about the machine-level infrastructure; Docker is more about application-level infrastructure.

Docker is also making immediate use of the Snap software packaging system, which Canonical has positioned as a universal package management solution. Docker Engine is provided to Ubuntu as a Snap package, not only to show Snap's utility, but also so Docker -- a fast-moving software ecosystem that sometimes moves a little too fast for some -- can offer updates to the Docker Engine at a pace that's not constrained by the development cycle of the rest of the OS.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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