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Rancher, Open Source Infrastructure Platform For Docker Containers, Reaches Beta

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Rancher, an open source platform that serves as the infrastructure backplane for Docker containers, is now available as a beta release. Rancher goes behind Docker to offer storage management, DNS, health monitoring, load balancing, resource management and more. Built specifically for running Docker containers in production environments, Rancher offers a portable solution that can run consistently on any infrastructure.

Utilizing containers in production environments creates new requirements for infrastructure that didn't exist before. Rancher connects the different infrastructure services using standard Docker plugins and application management tools, including Docker Compose. What's more, the platform is compatible with third party tools built on the Docker API, including Google's Kubernetes.

"In the Docker world, you still need things like storage, networking and load balancing, but even these things are implemented and consumed quite differently. On top of that, there have been some new requirements," Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher told Tom's IT Pro in an interview. "Rancher plus Docker becomes a truly universal, portable application runtime that can run on any infrastructure."

Rancher's storage management allows for live snapshots and offers support for backup of Docker volumes (stateful containers and services). The DNS-based service discovery function allows containers to be automatically registered as services, and for the services to be discovered over the network dynamically. The DNS function is also integrated with a health monitoring capability. The integrated container load balancing feature helps distribute traffic between containers and services. Finally, Rancher's resource management, which supports Docker Machine, monitors host resources and helps users manage container deployment.

"Rancher gives enterprises a lot more freedom to get resources from wherever they want," Liang explained, adding that the platform makes "Docker environments 100 percent consistent and available."

Other key features in Rancher include:

  • Native Docker management support, which allows IT pros and developers to provision containers using the Docker API or CLI
  • Software defined, cross-host networking feature that allows secure communication between containers across different hosts and even different clouds
  • Multi-tenancy and multiple user management, which allows organizations to connect with existing directory services to create separate development and production environments while fostering collaboration
  • Simplified Docker service upgrades, which makes it easier to upgrade existing container services

Rancher deployment is simple and involves deploying a set of two Docker containers.

Rancher was created by Rancher Labs, a startup led by the team behind, maker of the Apache CloudStack software that was acquired in 2011 by Citrix. To learn more and to sign up for the public beta of Rancher, visit