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Docker Announces New Software Defined Networking, Plugin And Orchestration Features

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Today at DockerCon, taking place in San Francisco, California, Docker announced new platform capabilities that focus on multi-host software defined networking (SDN), third-party plugins, and enhancements in the company's existing orchestration tools: Swarm, Compose, and Machine.

With continued emphasis on lightweight, portable multi-container applications, Docker's next endeavor is networking, allowing distributed app portability across networks. The company's new SDN stack, which is native to the platform, permits communication across any network infrastructure and does this seamlessly, according to the company.

MORE: How To Use Docker To Deploy Applications And Services

"We've developed a Docker-native SDN stack that allows for multi-host networking across a cluster of Docker engines in a way that a developer with a single command can define a policy for how the containers communicate together with the network; which containers should talk to each other, which containers show that they're communicating with specific applications, or across applications," David Messina, Docker's VP of Enterprise Marketing told Tom's IT Pro in an interview. "This is all built as a 'batteries included' stack by Docker."

The new networking capabilities tie back to the company's SocketPlane acquisition from March 2015, the goal of which was to build a native experience for networking within the Docker platform. They also help foster a DevOps mindset by allowing the development team to define a network topology for their apps, while enabling the operations team to move the apps from on-prem to cloud environments without having to reconfigure the containerized apps. What's more, Docker's new SDN functionality works with existing standards to ensure interoperability, including DNS and VXLAN.

"Use of DNS ensures that Dockerized services will be able to communicate without modification. VXLAN enables the creation of portable, distributed networks that allow an application's microservices to reside on any member of a Swarm, a native Docker cluster," read the release notes.

But portability of apps across networks is just the beginning. Docker also announced a new plugin architecture for the Docker Engine that includes a collaborative set of APIs allowing for the platform to be extended with other technologies, giving customers the choice to utilize third-party products. So for example, with Docker's SDK, customers can swap Docker's SDN functionality with Cisco's or VMware's capabilities. Initial plugin capabilities are focusing on networking and storage volumes and include plugin support from Weave, Cisco, VMware, Midokura, Nuage Networks, Microsoft, Project Calico and ClusterHQ.

"This extensibility means that development teams can create and test the distributed applications using the product toolkits that they regularly rely on, which might differ from the tooling operations teams use to take the same Dockerized application from staging into production," according to the company.

Next, Docker's orchestration tools -- Swarm, Compose and Machine -- also received new feature enhancements that tie into the platform's new multi-host networking capabilities. Along with Docker Compose version 1.3, the tool that allows developers to define and run multi-container apps, Docker Swarm, the clustering solution now in version 0.3.0, allows for multi-container apps to be networked across multiple hosts, creating a communications channel across the cluster of machines. Swarm now includes integration with Mesos (available in beta) and will soon be integrated with Amazon Web Services' EC2 Container Service (ECS).

"Networking also very closely ties to what happens from orchestration standpoint with containerized applications," Messina explained. "Orchestration ties back to how do I get all of the containers defined within an application, how do I cluster them and schedule them across a large data center. And Docker has great tools in this area." 

Finally, along with incremental enhancements across all of Docker's products, the company has also introduced the availability of Kitematic for Windows, which was previously only available for Mac environments.