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Container party: VMware, Microsoft, Cisco and Red Hat all get in on app hoopla

Brandon Butler | Sept. 4, 2014
When a sports team makes the playoffs a sense of excitement builds in their home city and people who didn't follow the team all season long come out of the woodwork to jump on the bandwagon and cheer on their local squad.

Microsoft this week affirmed its commitment to containers, particularly for how they can be used in Azure, the company's public cloud IaaS and PaaS. Microsoft first announced in July that it would be working with Docker and therefore containers. This week, the company announced a new tool for Azure named the Kubernetes Visualizer that helps graphically show how containers are created, managed and being used in Azure. Kuberntes is a cluster management tool open sourced by Google that basically allows groups of containers to be managed.

Cisco is even jumping in. The company's chief technical officer for cloud infrastructure services announced plans to use containers in the company's recently announced Intercloud. In a blog post  Kenneth Owens runs through many of the reasons why containers have increased in popularity recently, focusing specifically on their uses in a devops environment (that's where developers and operators work more closely together). Buried in the post was a tidbit of news too though: "Cisco Cloud Services is creating an Intercloud of container and micro-services in a cloud native and hybrid CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) model across Openstack, VMware, Cisco Powered, and Public clouds. Look for availability early next year."

Seemingly feeling a desire not to be left out of the party, a blogger at IBM jumped on to the container bandwagon too, issuing a blog post this week discussing the idea of containers but not releasing any news from Big Blue about its container strategy. The company's PaaS, named Blue Mix is based upon the open source Cloud Foundry platform which uses containers heavily though.

Other companies like Red Hat have been playing in the container game for a while. The company's PaaS named OpenShift was built on container technology when it launched more than three years ago. Red Hat began supporting containers in its Red Hat Enterprise Linux in version 6. Version 7 supports Docker and the upcoming release of OpenShift will support Docker as well. "Docker has made it easy to use containers just at the same time that many developers have turned to using containers," says Joe Fernandes, a product manager for OpenShift at Red Hat. The company even has some new initiatives like Project Atomic, which is a Linux version being developed by Red Hat optimized for running containers.

IaaS provider CenturyLink released Panamax, an internally developed tool for managing many containers all at once. Docker's partner page lists companies from Rackspace to Google and Canonical. Docker CEO Ben Gollub said the company is willing to work with just about anyone who will extend the reach of containers more broadly.

While the idea of containers have been around for a long time, the interest among developers for using containers has piqued recently, driven by new cloud-first, mobile and web-scale applications that benefit from running in containers. As that's happened new tools like Docker, Kubernetes and others have emerged to more easily manage containers. And as developers have embraced containers now so too are big IT vendors.


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