Docker gives into inevitable and offers native Kubernetes support

When it comes to container orchestration, it seems clear that Kubernetes, the open source tool developed by Google, has won the battle for operations’ hearts and minds. It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention that Docker announced native support for Kubernetes today at DockerCon Europe in Copenhagen.

The company hasn’t given up completely on its own orchestration tool, Docker Swarm, but by offering native Kubernetes support for the first time, it is acknowledging that people are using it in sufficient numbers that they have to build in support. To take the sting away from supporting a rival tool, they are offering an architecture that enables users to select an orchestration engine at run time. That can be Swarm or Kubernetes each time without any need to alter code, Banjot Chanana, head of product at Docker told TechCrunch.

Before today’s announcement, while it was possible to use Kubernetes with Docker, it wasn’t necessarily an easy process. With the new Kubernetes support, it should be far simpler for both Docker Enterprise Edition and Docker Developer Edition users.

Chanana says that because of the way Docker is architected it wasn’t actually that difficult to offer Kubernetes alongside Docker Swarm and do it in a way that it wouldn’t look or feel like a bolt-on. Docker gives customers a standard way to build program containers. This is usually taken care of by the developer in the DevOps model.

Operations deals with deploying, securing and managing the containers through their lifecycle using an orchestration tool. Over the last couple of years, Kubernetes has been gaining steam as the orchestration tool of choice with big names like AWS, Oracle, Microsoft, VMware and Pivotal all joining the Cloud Native Computing Foundation this year, the open source organization that houses the Kubernetes project.

When all of those organizations climbed on the bandwagon, Docker had little choice but to go along to get aligned with customers’ wishes. Docker was able to build in support while keeping support for their own orchestration tool alive, but it’s fairly clear that Kubernetes has become the orchestration tool that people will be using for the majority of container workloads moving forward.

It’s worth noting that The Information reported this week that in 2014 when it was developing Kubernetes, Google offered to collaborate with Docker and let it house the Kubernetes project, but the company decided to develop Swarm and Google moved onto the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Today’s announcement brings them full circle in a sense, as they will be supporting Kubernetes moving forward (even if they don’t house the code).