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Docker all geared up for the enterprise

Docker's rise has been so swift, many might be surprised its official launch happened Monday

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Docker 1.0 has officially arrived, giving organizations a proper chance to use the emerging cloud technology to create and run applications with even more agility.

Docker declared its namesake virtualization software ready for full production use Monday.

First released over a year ago, in March 2013, Docker has been making an impact in the market for virtualization and cloud computing. Both Google and Red Hat have incorporated Docker into their own services and software.

The general release has already been downloaded 2.75 million times and has found tens of thousands of users, according to the company.

Docker, and container-based virtualization in general, is a vital step in the continuing evolution of PaaS (platform-as-a-service), noted Al Hilwa, IDC program director for software development research.

"It is an important way to get standardization at the sub-virtual machine level, allowing portable apps to be packaged in a lightweight fashion and be easily and reliably consumed by PaaS clouds everywhere," Hilwa wrote in an email sent to technology journalists.

Docker provides a way to package an application in a virtual container so that it can be run across different Linux servers.

Like a virtual machine, a Docker container can package an application into a single file, freeing the developer from worrying about the underlying system software. Unlike full virtual machines, though, a Docker container does not include a full OS, but rather shares the OS of its host -- in Docker's case, Linux.

As a result, Docker containers can be faster and less resource-heavy than virtual machines. A full virtual machine may take several minutes to create and launch, whereas a container can be initiated in seconds. Containers also offer superior performance for the applications they contain, compared to running the application within a virtual machine, which incurs the overhead of running through a hypervisor.

Although many organizations already use the technology for production jobs, Docker 1.0 guarantees that its API (application programming interface) will offer backward compatibility, ensuring developers that they can write programs based on the software that will remain in synch for years to come.

The 1.0 version also brings with its a new set of documentation and commercial enterprise support packages from Docker itself. The company is developing Docker Hub, a cloud-based service for collaboration, content, and workflow automation.

An open-source program, Docker has gotten bits of its code from more than 460 contributors.

"The level of ecosystem support Docker has gained is stunning and it speaks to the need for this kind of technology in the market and the value it provides," Hilwa wrote. "This ecosystem is a great omen for the future richness of the DockerHub and the company's business strategy."

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com



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