Container Ecosystem Trends You Need to Know | SUSE Communities

Container Ecosystem Trends You Need to Know


Since Docker launched in 2013, it has brought a level of excitement and
innovation to software development that’s contagious. It has rallied
support from every corner—enterprises to startups, developers to IT
folk, plus the open source community, ISVs, the biggest public cloud
vendors, and every tool across the software stack. Since the launch of
Docker, many major milestones have served to advance the container
revolution. Let’s look at some of them.

Container Orchestration Options

Getting started with your first container is fairly simple. All it takes
is your laptop and a Docker client. However, running a microservices app
is a whole other beast. The most difficult part is in creating,
managing, and automating clusters of ephemeral containers. The first
major tool to address this challenge was Mesos with its Marathon
orchestrator. Having powered distributed infrastructure even before
Docker, Marathon is in use in production workloads at Twitter, and in
other large-scale web applications. The next orchestration tool to gain
prominence was Kubernetes. In fact, today, Kubernetes leads the pack of
Docker orchestration tools because of how extensible it is. It supports
a broad list of programming languages, infrastructure options, and
enjoys tremendous support from the container ecosystem. It isolates the
application layer from the infrastructure layer, thus enabling true
portability across multiple cloud vendors, and infrastructure setups.
Docker Swarm, which joined the container orchestration party late, has
considerable ground to cover to catch up, and initial signs point to
the battle already shifting the way of
even though Swarm is the easiest to get started with, and is well
integrated with the rest of the Docker platform. Orchestration is key to
the adoption and success of containers in the enterprise. Though neither
of these three are bad options, you should consider which best suits

Container Security is Improving Fast

Containers started out with weak isolation defaults. This has been
changing with time. One of the key developments related to container
security is the emergence of multiple capable container registries. A
registry stores and scans container images and repositories for
vulnerabilities. This is an important part of Docker security, as
publicly available repositories from unverified publishers are a big
security threat. This is one of the downsides of an open ecosystem where
container images are shared easily. But having security checks in place
using registries mitigates this risk. Docker Hub is the default and most
popular container registry that most Docker users get started with. The
major IaaS providers have their own container registries. This makes
sense, especially if you’re heavily invested in AWS, Azure, or Google
Cloud. They come with the default repository scanning, more mature
access controls, and a suite of other tools for networking, storage, and
monitoring. Apart from this, third-party registries like Quay, and
GitLab container registry are also gaining popularity. The options for
registries are more numerous than orchestration tools, and the market is
wide open. Apart from registries, third-party container security
services like TwistLock and Aqua
provide security beyond the

Native Docker clients for Windows and Mac

Docker was initially a Linux-only technology that depended on special
features built into the Linux kernel (those features were available only
on Linux, not other Unix-like kernels). If you wanted to run Docker on
Windows or a Mac, you had to use a virtual machine engine like
VirtualBox and a Linux-based virtual machine for hosting your Docker
environment. This setup was handy for developers who wanted to test
Docker apps on Windows or Mac machines, but it was not practical as a
Docker server deployment solution. Things changed in early 2016 with the
release of native Docker support for
This was a major development as a lot of enterprise workloads run on
Windows Server. The demand to use Docker in these environments was
strong. For now, there are still some major limitations to Docker when
running natively on Windows. Networking is not yet fully implemented,
and only Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 are supported. But the fact
that Docker has gone Windows-native opens up a host of new opportunities
for Docker in the Windows ecosystem.

Built-in vs. Open Source Docker Components

Docker, Inc. has built enterprise offerings (including Docker
Datacenter, which is now integrated into Docker’s new Enterprise Edition
platform), and they’re comprised of components from Docker itself,
including the Swarm orchestrator, which is not built into Docker Engine.
Docker’s interest in using its own tools to build a container stack,
rather than partnering with other organizations in the container
ecosystem, initially raised some concerns that Docker would ignore
community standards. There was even talk last
forking Docker because of these concerns. (The fork never happened.)
More recently, these tensions have calmed as Docker has taken steps to
assure customers that it isn’t out to monopolize the industry. Its
active contributions to the CNCF, including most
recently the open sourcing of the underlying containerd technology, are
steps in this direction. And at DockerCon last month, the company moved
to make its main project more modular and accessible to the community by
transferring code to the Moby Project and
introducing LinuxKit (you can
read how these changes impact Rancher Labs, its products, and its users
here and
here). To be
sure, Docker still has its critics. But the Docker technology stack is
now more broadly open and integrated with the rest of the ecosystem than
it was a year ago.


The container ecosystem is still in flux with improvements and changes
happening by the day. New standards are being put in place as we figure
out what Docker means for applications across all types of
organizations. The trends highlighted in this post are indicators of a
fast-maturing ecosystem. How Docker and the various vendors in this
space progress from here is something to keep an eye on. Twain began
his career at Google, where, among other things, he was involved in
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