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Docker unfurls software-defined networking, plugin blueprints

New add-on system opens doors

DockerCon 2015 As its DockerCon conference kicks off today in San Francisco, Docker has announced new features for its software container technology, including software-defined networking (SDN) and a swappable plugin architecture.

The SDN features are a direct result of Docker's acquisition of SocketPlane in March but were developed with feedback from the firm's other networking partners. The aim is to make it easier to build applications from multiple containers.

"Individual developers, through a single command, can establish the topology of the network to connect discrete Dockerized services into a distributed application. And then through a set of commands be able to inspect, audit and change topology 'on the fly'," Docker CTO Solomon Hykes said in a statement.

Docker likes to describe its approach as "batteries included but swappable": if you don't want to use its code for a given feature, you can trade it out for your own. In keeping with that design philosophy, it has also made it easier to swap out its SDN features and other components of its tech.

A new plugin architecture and SDK model – developed in collaboration with partners including ClusterHQ, Glider Labs, and Weaveworks – allows companies to more easily integrate their own technologies with Docker.

Among the companies that have already developed SDN plugins for Docker are Cisco, Microsoft, Midokura, Nuage Networks, Project Calico, VMware, and Weave. ClusterHQ, meanwhile, offers a plugin for storage volumes.

"What we're excited about, on top of everything else, is that people can download the bits on Monday and start playing with the networking stack that already has integrated solutions from third parties attached to it," Docker marketing VP David Messina told The Reg in a phone interview.

For now, the SDN and plugin features are only available in an "experimental" build of version 1.7 of the Docker Engine, with the idea that they will reach general availability with version 1.8.

In addition, Docker has spruced up the three container orchestration tools that it introduced in December, including Docker Compose, Docker Machine, and Docker Swarm. Each has been given incremental feature enhancements, and in particular, Docker Swarm now has working integration with Apache Mesos.

Docker also said it has been working with Amazon Web Services to optimize scheduling of containerized applications on the Amazon EC2 Container Service, and that support for Amazon's Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2) will be integrated into Compose and Swarm.

DockerCon continues in San Francisco through Tuesday, June 23. ®

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