New Docker API Accelerates Application Development Cycles



Docker, the company behind the Docker open source platform for distributed applications, has announced three new orchestration services: Docker Machine, Docker Swarm and Docker Compose. The company also announced the availability of Orchestration APIs, the newest additions to the Docker API suite, which allow developers to leverage the broad partner ecosystem, help to expand ecosystem collaboration opportunities, and allow enterprises to quickly deliver portable distributed applications/integrations in the cloud and on premises.

Docker is an open source platform that allows developers and system admins to build, ship and run distributed applications. The platform consists of two primary components: Docker Engine, a runtime and packaging tool, and Docker Hub, an app-sharing and workflow cloud service. Docker is not the same as a traditional virtual machine in that the Docker Engine container consists of only the application and its dependencies. The engine also runs as an isolated process on the host operating system.

The three new Docker platform services are designed to cover all aspects of the distributed applications life cycle with each service covering a different part of that life cycle. Docker Machine makes it possible to provision any host with the Docker Engine. Docker Swarm creates a resource pool of the hosts on which the distributed applications run by provisioning the new Docker Machine service. Docker Compose enables distributed application stacks to be deployed anywhere and moved at any time.

The new Orchestration APIs make it possible for any of these new orchestration services to be "swapped-out" so that alternative implementations from ecosystem partners can be utilized for specific use cases. The Docker partner ecosystem is supported by Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Joyent, Microsoft, VMware and many other leading tech companies. In a Joyent press release, Joyent CEO Scott Hammond says:

Our objective is to accelerate the adoption of Docker in production environments, and we are committed to making Joyent the best place to run Docker-based applications in production — whether in the Joyent Public Cloud or Joyent private cloud software, SmartDataCenter. Our latest announcement, including the Joyent Container Service, LXz and Docker Engine for SmartDataCenter, are significant steps forward in accomplishing that goal.

The new Orchestration APIs are available as three different services and can be used to create custom orchestration solutions for individual applications. According to a recent Microsoft Azure blog post, Microsoft is working with Docker to make sure Azure customers will be able to use the new Docker Orchestration APIs and that developers will be able to "manage Windows Server containers upon availability." In Docker's press release, John Gossman, architect, Microsoft Azure, says:

We have strategically partnered with Docker because Microsoft is investing in freedom of choice for developers. We believe that Docker’s orchestration services APIs offer a flexible way to build, deploy and manage highly available, distributed applications built for Linux containers — and when available — Windows Server containers that are freely portable between any host infrastructure. We are excited about the Docker Machine Management API support for Azure as part of the Alpha release.

The new Docker platform services and Orchestration APIs not only empower developers to create and manage portable and highly scalable distributed applications, but also allow enterprises to quickly and efficiently deliver portable distributed applications/integrations in the cloud and on premises. According to IBM's announcement press release, IBM is the first company to partner with Docker to sell integrated solutions specifically for the enterprise market that include Docker Hub Enterprise. Angel Diaz, IBM's vice president of open technology and cloud performance solutions, says:

As enterprises demand tools that allow them to develop applications in a consistent and easy manner, Docker containers have quickly become the de facto building block for doing so. IBM Containers service running Docker containers on SoftLayer's bare-metal servers provides improved performance over traditional approaches, and this strategic partnership between IBM and Docker is the first of its kind to provide enterprises with integrated tools and services they need to automate application deployment across the public cloud and on-premises cloud centers.

Docker Machine, Docker Compose and Docker Swarm are now available as alpha releases and are scheduled to be released for general availability in the second quarter of 2015. The Docker Machine APIs are now available, with the other APIs scheduled to be available in the first half of 2015.

For more information about the Docker platform and the new Docker Orchestration APIs, visit

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Janet Wagner is a freelance technical writer and contributor to ProgrammableWeb covering breaking news, in-depth analysis, and product reviews. She specializes in creating well-researched, in-depth content about APIs, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, analytics, GIS/maps, and other advanced technologies.