The cat is out of the bag

Can Docker be ousted?

Gabriela Motroc

A man coming out of the door image via Shutterstock

No time to play nice. Google’s Craig McLuckie took to Twitter to reveal his thoughts about the need for “a container runtime and format standard to emerge beyond the (current) scope of OCI,” but he’s not the only one to throw a rock at Docker. The dissatisfaction with Docker is out in the open now and one of the most popular fears is that the container ecosystem could be pulled to pieces. Let’s analyze the facts.

There’s a Docker war developing right under our noses. The battlefields? —Twitter, Medium, personal blogs, forums and more. Google Kubernetes evangelist Kelsey Hightower  took to Twitter to express his views about a possible Docker fork and to wonder whether “Docker deserves to be the stewards of an open container standard.”

Although he acknowledged Docker’s “amazing work,” Google’s Craig McLuckie also opined that “we need boring core infrastructure today.”

Rally the troops, Docker is under attack

“Boring” seems to be a popular word describing something that we need —Bob Wise, Chief Technologist Cloud Infrastructure at Samsung SDSA wrote in a Medium post titled An Ode to Boring: Creating Open and Stable Container World that “the orchestration job is right now much harder than it should be because there is far too much product and feature excitement about containers. We need boring!”

If your team is working deeply in Kubernetes, Mesos, or Cloud Foundry, you need a stable, simple, boring container implementation with minimal essential characteristics, and community agreement around image creation, naming, and publishing. You need to use the same simple, boring container implementation that everybody else is using. As a community, we need to slow the pace of change of the fundamental building blocks. Stability will allow the systems built on top to thrive.

Wise opined that “Docker’s recent move to embed Swarm into the docker engine is equal parts poor architecture and brilliant marketing” and pointed out that the commercial strategy should worry the people who prefer the architecture of communities of Mesos, Kubernetes, or Cloud Foundry. “Docker has established that they will use their position to impede the progress of those communities in favor of their commercial interests,” Wise added.

He included links to Apcera technical product manager Phillip Tribble’s blog post titled The Sad State of Docker and to a Hacker News thread about what is wrong in Docker 1.12. Tribble declared his love for Docker but revealed that the 1.12 version disappointed him because it is “a great proof of concept that should not have received the amount of attention that it already received.” He pointed out the bugs in Swarm and others followed his lead.

The New Stack was the first to notice that discussions about a possible Docker fork are bubbling up.

Team Docker

When ThoughtWorks launched its biannual Technology Radar a few months ago, it emphasized the growing popularity of Docker: “We see a significant amount of energy focused on using Docker—and, particularly, the ecosystem surrounding it— beyond dev/test and all the way into production. Docker containers are used as the “unit of scaling” for many PaaS and “data center OS” platforms, giving Docker even more momentum.”

ThoughtWorks remained excited about Docker because “the Docker image format makes it easier to achieve parity between development and production. Docker is a natural fit in a microservices-style application as a packaging mechanism for self-contained services.”

Technology Radar —Platforms

Technology Radar —Platforms

Matt Saunders, Principal Consultant at Contino and JAX DevOps speaker, told JAXenter that “Docker changes the way an organization delivers software in ways that haven’t been done in a generation.” Click here to read the entire interview.

Another JAX DevOps speaker, Codeship’s Laura Frank, opined that introducing Docker to your development workflow can help you write and run your testing frameworks more efficiently, so that you can always deliver your best product to your customers.

Docker has got a lot of criticism in the past for security concerns, but many of the tools in the Docker ecosystem have released security updates, and security is continuously improving. As with any tool, you should take care to evaluate it before implementing it in your own project, and make sure you understand the implications of using it — security or otherwise.

Frank concluded that Docker “makes it easier for engineers to work more efficiently.”

It remains to be seen if Docker can be ousted. We will be closely following up on this matter and we will keep you updated.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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