13 Companies Leading the Way with ContainersThese vendors are developing key containerization tools and integrating open source container technology into their products and services.
Nearly synonymous with containerization, Docker is the name of both the world's leading containerization platform and the company that is the primary sponsor of the Docker open source project. Founded in 2013, Docker has racked up more than 8 billion downloads and 32,000 stars on GitHub, as well as becoming part of more than 100,000 third-party projects. According to the Docker website "On average companies using Docker experience a 7X improvement in how frequently they are able to ship software." Written in Go, Docker was originally available only for Linux, but Microsoft has now integrated it into Windows Server as well. Several recent surveys have found that Docker is the most popular tool for DevOps teams.
Image Source: Docker
Google's most significant contribution to the containerization trend is probably Kubernetes, the open source containerization orchestration platform it created. Designed to support massive scaling, Kubernetes simplifies the deployment and management of containers. It provides the core technology for Google Container Engine, and the other major cloud providers offer Kubernetes support or services as well.
While Google engineers still contribute to Kubernetes, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation now owns and oversees the project. Several other organizations on this list, including Docker, CoreOS, Red Hat, IBM and Joyent, also contribute to the project.
The Google Cloud Platform supports containers, and Google was also one of the early users of containers. In fact, its engineers have said that everything at the company runs in containers.
Image Source: Google
Docker may be the most well-known container engine, but it's not the only one. CoreOS offers an alternative containerization engine called rkt (pronounced like "rocket"). The CoreOS website explains that rkt was "designed for security, simplicity and composability within modern cluster architectures."
The CoreOS organization also offers a Linux distribution called CoreOS Linux that incorporates rkt and Kubernetes. In addition, the organization sells a Kubernetes-based product called Tectonic. And it has more than 90 different open source project on GitHub, most of them related in some way to containerization.
Image Source: CoreOS
4. Red Hat
One of the early proponents of container technology, Red Hat claims to be "the second largest contributor to the Docker and Kubernetes codebases," and it is also part of the Open Container Initiative and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Its flagship container product is its OpenShift platform as a service (PaaS), which is based on Docker and Kubernetes. The company also offers a Container Development Kit, as well as a host of other tools and training for developers interested in working with containerized applications.
Image Source: Red Hat
Although much of early work on containers was done on the Linux platform, Microsoft has fully embraced both Docker in particular and containerization in general. It has a partnership with Docker and has incorporated Docker into Windows Server 2016. It also supports containers on its Cloud Platform and its Azure cloud computing service. It has joined the Open Container Initiative, and just recently announced that Kubernetes is generally available on its Azure Container Service.
Image Source: Microsoft
Of course, Microsoft and Google aren't the only vendors offering a cloud-based container service. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has its own EC2 Container Service (ECS). And in the RightScale survey, 35 percent of respondents said they use AWS ECS, making it the most popular cloud-based container service. Amazon's container service doesn't carry any additional fees; container customers pay only for their usage of EC2 cloud infrastructure services. And the EC2 Container Service also integrates with other AWS offerings like Elastic Load Balancing, Elastic Block Store, Virtual Private Cloud, IAM, and CloudTrail. Customers using Container Service include Expedia, Edmunds.com, Capital One, Rent-A-Center, Instacart and many others.
Image Source: Amazon
Acquired by Samsung for $1.2 billion in 2016, Joyent has a container as a service offering called Triton. It includes Triton ContainerPilot for application orchestration, Triton DataCenter for datacenter orchestration and the Triton SmartOS container hypervisor. It comes in open source, enterprise and cloud versions, and the company claims that customers can deploy Triton in less than an hour.
When Samsung purchased the company, Joyent released a statement in which its CEO, Scott Hammond, said, “For our existing public cloud and private data center customers, adding scale, financial muscle, and Samsung as both a partner for innovation and as a large anchor tenant customer for Triton and Manta, will pay big dividends. Our Triton business is doubling every quarter and our Manta solution is the foundation for many of our customers’ most strategic applications.”
Image Source: Joyent
Like the other major public cloud vendors, IBM Bluemix also offers a Docker-based container service. Some other IBM products, including its PureApplication hybrid cloud platform, support Docker as well. In addition, IBM has a partnership with Docker, and IBM developers have contributed to the Docker project. The company also participates in the Open Container Initiative.
Image Source: IBM
Founded in 2014, Rancher offers "a complete platform for running containers." It can manage Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Mesos clusters, and the company boasts that users can deploy the Rancher software in less than five minutes.
The company has also developed a lightweight Linux distribution called RancherOS. It runs Docker right on top of the Linux kernel and gets rid of the unnecessary libraries to offer maximum speed, scalability and portability for containerized environments. All the pieces of the OS run inside containers themselves, making it a containerization OS made up of containers.
Image Source: Rancher
ClusterHQ describes itself as "the container data people," and promises to make "your databases such as MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and Couchbase as easy to containerize as the stateless parts of your app."
Its best-known product is Flocker, an open source container data volume orchestration tool. It connects Docker data volumes to Docker containers, so that they move together.
The company also offers FlockerHub, a tool for organizing, storing and sharing Docker data volumes. The company's third product, Fli, is a command line interface for FlockerHub. The company likes to compare FlockerHub to GitHub and Fli to Git.
Image Source: ClusterHQ
Although it is known primarily for its virtualization technology, VMware has also been getting into the containerization game. Its vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) technology adds Docker capabilities to the vSphere platform, making it easy to deploy and manage containers alongside traditional VMs. The company has released the VIC Engine, as well as a container registry called VMware Harbor and a developer interface called VMware Admiral on GitHub under open source licenses. VIC is also included with vSphere ENT+ version 6.0 or later.
Image Source: VMware
Cisco got into the growing container market primarily by buying a startup called ContainerX in 2016. The networking giant is integrating ContainerX technology into its Cloud Platform. ContainerX describes itself as the "world's first multi-tenant container platform for both Linux and Windows" and as "the most powerful way to manage Docker in enterprises."
In reference to the acquisition, Cisco vice president of corporate business development Rob Salvagno blogged, "Many of our customers are starting to use containers to build, deploy and manage cloud native applications. Containers provide an easy, flexible way to build, test, deploy, and move applications across a variety of environments, including public clouds, private clouds and hybrid environments. Today the container space is in an emerging phase with Enterprises experimenting with adoption but at the same time wanting to see the level of security, manageability and interoperability they need within their IT environment."
Image Source: Cisco
Last but not least, Oracle offers a Container Cloud Service that, like many of the other cloud offerings, is based on Docker. According to the Oracle website, the service "provides an easy and quick way to create an enterprise-grade container infrastructure" and "delivers comprehensive tooling to compose, deploy, orchestrate and manage Docker container-based applications on the Oracle Cloud for Dev, Dev/Test, DevOps, and Cloud Native use cases." It integrates with many other DevOps tools, and metered pricing starts at $0.1344 per hour.
Image Source: Oracle
As DevOps has grown in popularity, an increasing number of organizations are looking to containerization technology as a way to simplify and streamline application deployment and management. In fact, the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report found that Docker, the leading containerization tool, was the most popular DevOps tool among the companies it surveyed. Forty percent of the enterprises surveyed said that they use Docker, and 30 percent more said they planned to do so in the future.
Container technology packages an application together with everything it needs to run. That makes it easier to deploy applications and much easier to move them around. Containers also offer some security benefits because they isolate applications from each other. They are similar to virtual machines, but containers on the same infrastructure share the same OS kernel, which make them more lightweight than VMs. And they can run on traditional or cloud infrastructure.
As enterprises have begun experimenting with containers, vendors have been quick to put together container-related offerings. A few open source companies have played the lead role in developing containerization tools, and all the top public cloud vendors have added container services to their portfolios. In addition, several large tech companies have boosted their container capabilities by purchasing smaller startups.
This slideshow highlights thirteen of those vendors who are leading the way with containers.