The container revolution is upon us.
Companies from Red Hat to IBM, Amazon Web Services to Microsoft and even VMware are all into containers. And where there is a hot new technology, there are of course hot startups.
In the past year interest and buzz about containers has soared. A recent survey from research firm Forrester found that 31 percent of developers said they've used Docker or containers in the past year. "That's a big number of global developers for such a new technology," says Dave Bartoletti, who tracks containers for Forrester. Another nine percent say containers are already in production -- a respectable number for such a young market.
Fundamentally containers are a way to virtualize the operating system to managing code and applications. There are challenges around managing containers though, from coordinating the network, to assigning storage for them. Startups from across the industry are tackling these issues and more, and here's a closer look at 12 of them.
Headquarters: Mountain View Founded: 2012 Funding: $19 Million from Atlantic Bridge, Ignition Partners, Data Collective, Amplify Partners, Intel Capital Why it's worth watching: Containers are primarily seen as a way to ease application development, but some startups are finding innovative use cases for managing applications with containers. BlueData, which is led by an ex-R&D vice president from VMware named Kumar Sreekanti, is one such example.
The company, which aims to "democratize" big data deployments by making them more consumable, has increasingly been making containers part of its strategy. BlueData allows organizations to deploy big data platforms like Hadoop and Apache Spark in Docker containers, and is making containerized versions available through a free trial of its EPIC platform, which can run on as a downloaded program or a hosted application in Amazon Web Service's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). BlueData hopes to make a fuller version of its product generally available this fall.
Headquarters: San Francisco Founded: 2008 Funding: $15 million from Accel Partners and Canaan Partners Why it's worth watching: Containers don't inherently hold on to data about applications that are inside of them when they're moved from one virtual machine to another. A lot of enterprise applications need to hold on to state though. ClusterHQ's Flocker product, which is also an open source project, allows containers to hold state.
Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller says this is a big step forward for containers. ClusterHQ calls Flocker a data volume manager. This capability allows Docker containers to run databases in containers and port them from one VM host to another without losing data associated with the app in the container. "Making containers persistent is probably an increase of 3-5x (in terms of) uses cases that can be addressed by containers that have persistency," he wrote in a blog post analyzing the announcement of Flocker 1.0.
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