Docker Launches Its Container Orchestration Tools

Last December, Docker previewed its plans to launch a comprehensive set of orchestration tools for its container platform and, starting today, developers will be able to download and use all of these tools.

Together, Docker Machine, Swarm and Compose are meant to make it easier for developers and system administrators to create and manage their portable applications on top of the Docker platform.

Docker Machine, for example, allows developers to quickly spin up Docker on a variety of cloud platforms, including Amazon EC2, Digital Ocean, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, RackSpace Cloud and most of VMware’s platforms. Getting started with Docker on those platforms doesn’t take more than a single command. Without Machine, this whole process would have involved a number of manual steps.

Similarly, Docker Swarm provides developers with a native clustering and scheduling solution. The company argues that this allows developers to scale a Docker-based application “with the application development life cycle from one laptop to spanning hundreds of hosts in production.” Swarm supports existing host discovery solutions like ZooKeeper, Consul and etcd. It also integrates with other third-party orchestration tools, including Mesosphere. Support for Amazon’s recently launched EC2 Container Service, IBM Bluemix, Microsoft Azure and Joyent Smart Data Center is coming soon.

When Docker first announced this set of tools, a number of critics argued that it was building tools that compete with existing companies in its ecosystem.

“The truth is, Docker as a platform is about enabling the ecosystem because its core value is in application portability,” Docker’s VP of Marketing David Messina told me, adding that Docker’s list of partners really speaks for itself. He also noted that nobody is forced to use Docker’s own tools. Its APIs are open, after all, and Docker’s own orchestration tools use them, too. The company likes to call this approach “batteries included but swappable.”