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Amazon loads Docker app containerization into its cloud

Virtualization's likely successor gets another boost

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Although admins have been free to run Linux containerization technology Docker on top of Amazon Linux running on its rentable EC2 servers for some time, the company on Thursday announced that Docker had been integrated with Elastic Beanstalk.

Elastic Beanstalk is a platform-as-a-service technology from Amazon which lets developers cede capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling and application health monitoring to AWS in exchange for ease of use.

Docker is a technology that lets admins wrap up an application and its dependencies within a secure sandbox that uses elements of the Linux kernel to partition itself off from other containers on the OS. It is seen by many as a lightweight alternative to virtualization, which shares a copy of the underlying OS across each virtualized app.

By adding Docker to the service, Amazon has made it even easier for devs to load the containerisation and packaging tech onto its cloud.

"Today we are enhancing Elastic Beanstalk with the ability to launch applications contained in Docker images or described in Dockerfiles. You can think of Docker as an exciting and powerful new runtime environment for Elastic Beanstalk, joining the existing Node.JS, PHP, Python, .NET, Java, and Ruby environments," Amazon wrote in a blog post.

Docker has, in a relatively short amount of time, become an important piece of technology within Silicon Valley. Unlike previous containerization efforts like Solaris Zones or various components of Red Hat Linux, the tech seems to be taking hold and has gathered a large number of contributors.

Admins will be able to run public Docker images on the Amazon cloud by creating a file called Dockerrun.aws.json to specify the details of the tech, or if using a private image will need to create a .dockercfg file and reference it from the authentication section of the .json file. More details can be found in Amazon's technical documentation.

"When developers asked us to support Docker in Elastic Beanstalk they described a 'best of both worlds' scenario: they love Docker's impact on their development workflow," wrote, Amazon's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, in a blog post.

"Packaging applications as Docker Images makes them portable, reliable, easy to share with others, and simple to test. They wanted to make it similarly easy to deploy and operate their Docker-based applications on AWS and take advantage of features like RDS, VPC, and IAM.

Amazon's rivals Microsoft and Google are yet to support Docker in the platform variants of their cloud products (Azure and Google App Engine, respectively). It is possible, however, to run Docker on Linux images on both Google and Microsoft's infrastructure-as-a-service products.

Given the broad uptake of Docker among the clouds, perhaps Red Hat was correct when it said recently that: "Docker as a packaging tool for shipping software may be a game changer". ®

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