fred lifton

Dockercon: Conference Recap

fred lifton
Wow! What a week!
Wait, what? It’s only Tuesday? Well, you can’t blame me for being disoriented, because after two full days of Dockercon, it feels like the world is shifting under my feet. Shifting where, you ask? To containers! Containers are everywhere, from Spotify to Gilt, Yelp to Groupon. There are containers at Google, IBM, RedHat, and Microsoft. From dev to test to deploy, developers of every stripe are using Docker containers to make their jobs easier and more productive. Here are just a few examples of the amazing things we learned that people are doing with Docker. 

  • Yelp uses Docker to help them build a smarter, more reliable application stack.
  • Heroku develops interoperable containers with Dockerfiles that emulate Buildpacks to reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt.
  • New Relic has built a tool called Centurion that talks to a fleet of Docker servers to provide controlled, rolling deployments.
  • Groupon relies on Docker to build out its infrastructure because it is tech agnostic, provides environmental consistency, and allows them to create dynamic, responsive production infrastructure.
  • Chef uses Docker to help it automate builds of consistent, replicable test environments.
  • Google has added support for Docker to their Google App Engine, so now you can run any Docker container from within it. 


So that’s what people are doing now with Docker. What does the future hold? Solomon’s keynote this morning gave us some hints. Speaking to a packed, albeit slightly sleepy, house, Solomon introduced three new, standalone open-source projects: libcontainer, libchan, and libswarm. These are all still in their infancy (they’re “rough”, in Solomon’s words), but they have tremendous promise to transform the way applications are built, how they communicate, and how they are composed.


Libcontainer is a standardized interface for OS sandboxing. It’s a native Go implementation for using Linux namespaces, networking and management with no external dependencies and no effect on the host system.

Libchan is a lean, lightweight communication protocol that provides a library for distributed computing. Libchan supports a number of transports out of the box, including: Unix socket, Raw TCP, TLS, and HTTP2/SPDY.

Libswarm is a minimalist toolkit to orchestrate and compose network services for distributed systems. Libswarm lets you compose complex architectures from reusable building blocks and avoid vendor lock-in by swapping any service out with another. Libswarm includes an extensive library of services is included, or you can write your own using its simple API.

There are some heavyweights behind these projects, with Google, RedHat, Parallels, and Ubuntu all committing significant support and major contributions. But they are also completely open source, so please, fork and hack to your heart’s content!

With these standardized interfaces, Solomon contends, we can “upgrade the internet” to the next generation. Hey, why aim small when you can go large?

But maybe before we upgrade the internet, the Docker team is going to have a beer or three and sleep for a good, long time. It’s been awhile.

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