Docker has moved to square container-based app delivery with demand for distributed apps that span multiple containers, or entire clusters, with the release today of new orchestration tools that have become the newest part of the open source Docker platform.

Specifically, the orchestration tools include the following services:

  • Docker Machine, which supports provisioning of any type of Docker host using Docker Engine.
  • Docker Swarm, a clustering service that manages resources across multiple Docker hosts.
  • Docker Compose, which allows developers to create applications using multiple Docker containers in a way that does not depend on underlying architecture, making an entire application stack portable.

According to Docker, the new services are designed to ensure its container-based virtualization platform is useful for hosting not just individual apps that exist inside a single container, but also distributed apps and services that require a more complex blend of containers and resources. "As we evolve from applications created from a small number of Docker containers on a handful of hosts to large, multi-Docker container applications spread across clusters and diverse infrastructures, it is important that users don't lose the qualities that have made Docker so successful," said Docker CTO Solomon Hykes.

What's also notable here is Docker's focus on integrating orchestration services for distributed apps into the core Docker platform using "native and open interfaces," in Hykes's words. Docker critics will likely call this another step toward making Docker a "monolithic" (a word CoreOS used in announcing the launch of Docker competitor Rocket) ecosystem that is less discrete and malleable than many other open source projects.

On the other hand, dealing with distributed app deployment in a user-friendly way is a necessary step for realizing the full potential of Docker, as well as of containerization more generally. The Docker team no doubt has its reasons for addressing that challenge on its own, rather than relying on channel partners to do it.