Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Tuesday, January 24, 2017
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Container Vendors Move to Plug Production Gaps 

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Another batch of management tools targeting application containers emerged this week as vendors continue to plug holes in the emerging micro-services ecosystem while extending the capabilities of leading container platforms.

For starters, ClusterHQ said it would beta release a pair of container management tools next week: the first to share and store Docker container volumes; the second, a Linux-based interface that allows developers to manage data volumes on the container hub. The first, dubbed FlockerHub, is described as "Github for data," ClusterHQ said.

Meanwhile, container specialist CoreOS on Thursday (Nov. 3) released a management tool called "Operators" designed to streamline container flows running on the Google-backed (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Kubernetes container orchestrator.

CoreOS CTO Brandon Philips noted that the "operators" metaphor signifies that ability to install and manage complex software on Kubernetes, including monitoring services or on-demand deployment of distributed databases. "This is another step forward in making distributed systems easy to install, run and update," Philips added in a statement.

CoreOS and ClusterHQ, both based in San Francisco, are among a growing number of container tool providers working to speed the transfer of application containers to production. Another, datacenter operating system vendor Mesosphere, claimed in a survey released this week that Apache Mesos is being used by 85 percent of respondents to handle container workloads running on micro-services architectures.

Meanwhile, more than two-thirds said they are running data services and analytics workloads on Mesos. Overall, Mesosphere reported, 62 percent of the 500 IT managers it polled are running containers in production using Mesos.

Still, container management vendors report that application developers are still bogged down debugging errors found in production deployments. ClusterHQ puts forward its FlockerHub and Fli (pronounced "fly") command line interface as testing tools for both reducing the number of bugs in production and improving how applications such as databases are managed.

The ability to push and pull data volumes to FlockerHub is intended to allow development teams to manage those volumes across the lifetime of an application. It "will do for data management what [GitHub] did for code,” Mike D. Kail, chief innovation Officer at Cybric and former Yahoo CIO (NASDAQ: YHOO), asserted in a testimonial.

Elsewhere, the CoreOS cloud-native approach includes the release of two versions of its Operators tool for easing configuration and management of distributed applications: one running etcd, its distributed key value store for handling data a cluster of machines; the second runs on Prometheus, the open source monitoring toolkit.

As competitors such as CoreOS, Docker and Mesosphere jockey to promote their approaches to moving application containers to production, all are arguing that stable foundations have been laid with Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and the Mesosphere datacenter operating system. Argued Philips of CoreOS: "As the foundation for Kubernetes has been laid, our new focus is the system to be built on top: software that extends Kubernetes with new capabilities."

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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