Docker introduces orchestration tools for large scale deployments

Docker Machine, Swarm and Compose can be used together to manage large Docker deployments

As adoption of the Docker virtualization container grows, the namesake company behind the open source technology has released three tools for managing large scale deployments.

Docker Machine, Swarm and Compose are collectively designed to make containers more portable and scalable, so they can be deployed and managed more easily en masse. Machine and Swarm are in a beta stage of development.

Debuting in 2013, Docker has become popular with developers and organizations, having been downloaded over 100 million times. The software provides a way to package an application along with its dependent libraries so it can be easily and quickly run on any Linux platform. All the major cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Joyent, and Microsoft, can host Docker containers.

As Docker use has grown in the past year, administrators have been devoting more time to managing large numbers of Docker containers, especially those used for large-scale Web applications. Cloud hosts have released container management tools, though these offerings are often tied to the specific cloud provider, leading to worries of vendor lock-in.

The new tools have been designed to handle all aspects of the Docker management.

Docker Machine provides a way to create new Docker instances from any location, be it a laptop or a cloud service. Previously, the container would have to be instantiated on the service where it would run. The company has released drivers for many cloud platforms for Machine, including those for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Digital Ocean, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Softlayer, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Hyper-V, OpenStack, Rackspace Cloud, and VMware vSphere.

Docker Swarm is designed for rapidly deploying a large number of Docker containers in a cluster, allowing users to manage containers across different cloud providers. It also provides a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) for third party software providers to add additional orchestration capabilities.

"Today's unveiling of Swarm is really about Docker having gotten very serious about how enterprises can deploy and manage containers at massive scale," wrote Matt Trifiro, senior vice president at Docker orchestration software provider Mesophere, in a blog post.

Docker Compose provides an environment for describing how large scale Docker deployments can be orchestrated, detailing how each container is linked to the others. It provides a set of instructions for deploying large numbers of interconnected containers within Swarm, and provides a way for individual containers to be updated without disrupting operations of the others.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

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Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
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