Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Docker, Microsoft Partner on Container ‘Bundler’ 

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Docker is expanding its collaboration with Microsoft to include an “application bundle” specification for packaging and running cloud-native applications. The collaboration coincides with the application container specialist’s release of a “desktop” for speeding deployment of distributed apps in production.

The new Cloud Native Application Bundle (CNAB) spec seeks to unify management of distributed applications using different tools running on-premise and on cloud infrastructure. The result is an “all-in-one packaging format” for applications delivered via containers, the partners said Tuesday (Dec. 4).

The CNAB specification allows users to define the resources deployed to a combination of runtimes and tooling, including Docker Engine, the de facto standard Kubernetes cluster orchestrator, automation tools and cloud services.

The spec also supports the Kubernetes package manager called Helm. In September, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) detailed how to install applications using Helm on its Azure Kubernetes Service.

Docker has for several years been expanding the reach of its application container infrastructure beyond Linux to include the huge installed base Windows servers. For example, it released a new version of its enterprise platform last month for migrating Windows Server 2008 applications to the Azure Cloud.

While the initial release of CNAB targets Microsoft Azure, the partners said the spec remains “cloud agnostic,” with IBM (NYSE: IBM) and VMware (NYSE: VMW) among the early backers of the bundling spec.

Docker said it is contributing to both the CNAB spec and Duffle, an open-source reference implementation of the CNAB client.

The draft CNAB specification is available here.

Meanwhile. Docker said it plans to expand implementation of CNAB across its container platform to support application development and management. The bundling spec will initially be released as part of an experimental tool called docker-app used to package cloud-native applications.

The tool allows users to package CNAB bundles as Docker images, the company said. It also enables sharing of applications on Docker Hub, the cloud-based registry service used to link code repositories.

Down the road, Docker plans to add management of applications based on CNAB to its enterprise platform.

The enterprise version of the application container platform now includes a desktop that runs on Mac- and Windows-based systems with the goal of accelerating development and delivery of production-ready containers.

The desktop is touted as promoting one-click installation and setup of Docker container development framework on either Mac or Windows, eliminating the need for additional code or manual virtual machine configuration. Both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes are available for container orchestration.

The company claims more than 2 million developers have downloaded the community version of Docker Desktop over the last year. The enterprise version includes the ability to use existing application templates to replicate production-ready application configurations. That feature would enable IT managers, for example, to implement security practices across an entire software supply chain, Docker said.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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