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Docker-JVM mix is new magic blend in the Java-ecosystem

Lucy Carey

The Linux container engine that could is proving its worth in a multitude of ways.

Container project Docker, which started life as a solitary container on a laptop, officially reached 1.0 GA status this June. With more than 8,741 commits from more than 460 contributors, 2.75 million downloads, and 14,000 “Dockerized” apps to date, this JAX Innovation Awards 2014 winner is now one of  the fastest growing open source projects in the space, and there are thousands of Docker containers in the cloud.

In part, this is down to the general movement towards highly scalable architectures and an app-orientated culture. As a  lightweight open-source technology, Docker is perfectly poised to capitalise on demand from devs to looking for a speedy way to port their code into the cloud – and the software is continuing to woo converts across the board. As we reported earlier this month, the JBoss community has become particularly enamoured with this youthful technology, creating a microsite specially dedicated to the project.

As uptake flourishes, users are slowly unlocking new layers of value from Docker. In an article published in InfoWorld today, Al Tobey, an open source mechanic for Cassandra vendors DataStax, can also provide a tasty complement to the JVM. In a presentation to a Silicon Valley JUG, Tobey explained that, with the engine’s brimming sackful of capabilities, it can offer a host of functions that the Java Virtual Machine simply cannot do.

Moreover, Tobey has observed that increasing numbers of JVM folks are getting wise to the beauty of the JVM-Docker magic mix, telling the group that, “I talk with a lot of the devops folks, the leaders in the field, and a lot of them are deploying Java apps on Docker.”

He added that, “”The JVM has really good sandboxing. It’s very well-respected, it has pretty good memory control. What it doesn’t have is really sophisticated CPU resource control, and so Docker brings that to the table. It also brings the packaging of the entire JVM with the JARs and all the different parts of the app into one container.”

To deploy JVM apps Docker style, devs ideally need a separate Docker file which builds an image with the JVM in it. Tobey explained that the file would then be “saved to a Docker repository, whereupon application virtual machines would be built directly, so the Java Development Kit does not have to be installed on every single build.”

With new users picking up the tech everyday, no doubt we’re going to see plenty more similar case studies in the upcoming months. Rackspace, Baidu, Yandex, ebay, Spotify, opentable, cloudflare, Mailgun, relateiq, rethinkdb, Gilt, Yelp, and New Relic all feature in the elite echelons of Docker users, and your favourite robotic overlord-in-waiting Google has also shown an interest in the technology. According to Julien Barbier, Community Manager at Docker, Inc., around 95% of contributions to the project come from the rapidly expanding community around it.

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