A Major Step Towards Making Docker a Distributed Application Platform

Gray Calendar Icon Published: March 4, 2015
Gray Calendar Icon Updated: September 11, 2019


Today Docker acquired SDN software maker SocketPlane. Congratulations to both Docker and SocketPlane teams. We have worked closely with SocketPlane team since the early Docker networking discussions and have a great amount of respect for their technical abilities. We are also happy to see Docker Inc. make a serious effort to bring SDN capabilities to the Docker platform. Many customers have told us that the lack of multi-host networking is one of the last remaining gaps that impede the wide-spread production use of Docker containers. Today Docker containers on multiple hosts cannot easily communicate with each other. Without SDN, developers and operations teams have to resort to complicated port mapping to get containers that are running on different hosts to talk to each other. This dramatically complicates application deployment, monitoring, upgrades, and service discovery.

At Rancher Labs, we are developing two products: RancherOS and Rancher. RancherOS is a minimalist Linux distribution designed specifically for running Docker containers. It enables the type of networking services developed by SocketPlane to be packaged and distributed as system containers. Rancher is a container orchestration platform for managing large production deployments of Docker containers. Rancher requires a multi-host networking layer to be deployed underneath. In fact, the need for multi-host networking is such that we developed a simple yet functional SDN solution in Rancher itself. We look forward to working with SocketPlane team as they drive the Docker networking API design so that Rancher can work with multiple SDN implementations in the future.

As a member of the Docker ecosystem, Rancher’s success depends on an increasing number of organizations embracing containers. We believe Docker can only succeed if it fulfills its promise of becoming a distributed application platform. A standardized Docker networking layer is an important step in this direction.

If you’re interested in learning more about RancherOS, please join us for an online meet up on March 31st.

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