DockerCon 16: Takeaways and Must-sees

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The Blog:

This is part 3 in a 6-part series on containers, microservices, and container orchestration to help tech and business professionals of all levels understand and embrace this transformative technology and the best practices processes to maximize your investment in it.

Here is an outline:

  1. Intro: Why Containers and Microservices Matters to Business – Executive thought leadership perspective – Coming Soon!
  2. Getting started with Kubernetes – How to start with a POC, weave k8s into your existing CI/CD pipelines, build a new pipeline
  3. Intermediate level post – Ready to kick the tires? Key Takeaways from Dockercon 2016,  K8s, Ansible, Terraform media/entertainment enterprise case study
  4. Advanced tips and tricks – Take things further with “Tapping into Kubernetes Events“, “Posting Kubernetes Events to Slack“, and “Chatbots for Chatops set up on Gcloud w Container engine
  5. Scaling Docker and Kubernetes in production to thousands of nodes on Kubernetes in one of the largest consumer web properties – Coming Soon!

Well, here we are. In the afterglow of yet another tech conference. But this time it’s a bit strange for me, because it’s not The OpenStack Summit.  It’s DockerCon. And man, was that just a wildly different vibe and a totally different focus when it came to sessions. I was able to attend DockerCon with another Solinea colleague and I wanted to take some time to document what I thought were some very interesting takeaways, talk about where I feel the container ecosystem is heading, and finally, link to some must-see sessions that sum up the most interesting parts of the show for me.

It was a whirlwind two days in Seattle and, admittedly, between talking to so many folks, browsing the expo floor, and attending sessions it’s already a bit tough to recall all of the things that we saw. As I refer back to my bulleted list I’ve been keeping on my laptop I realize just how much went down. Here’s some of the keys.


1. Docker for Mac/Win is ready for prime time: The beta release of Docker for Mac and Docker for Windows has been out for quite a while. And although I was lucky enough to get into the beta early, the software was certainly a little touch and go at first. However, after a constant stream of updates, it seems far more stable for me day to day and others must be feeling the same. As such, during the first day’s keynote, Solomon Hykes announced that the beta period was over and this software would be generally available. This is certainly a blessing for us here at Solinea, since our training classes were previously using Docker Toolbox, which always seemed a bit kludgey and we always had a problem student or two.

2. The new Docker engine is pretty slick: Immediately after announcing the GA for Docker for Mac/Win, Solomon proceeded to change course to something folks have been anticipating for a while. Built-in orchestration for Docker. New with the v1.12 release of Docker engine, orchestrating containers is a built-in (but optional) part of the package. This means that I, as a new user, could take a few machines, create a swarm with them, and launch services against them in a matter of minutes. This also includes the ability to scale those services up and down easily and includes some features like network overlay and service discovery that have historically been a secondary part of the swarm environment. 

3. Seriously, the new Docker engine is pretty slick: As somewhat of an extension to the previous point, the new Docker engine supports DABs (no, not that goofy dance). DABs are Docker Application Bundles. One can now take an existing docker-compose definition, and create a bundle out of it. This allows the bundle to be used and distributed evenly against the new swarm. Once each tier exists on the swarm, they can then be scaled up and down just like any other service. This certainly offers a pretty interesting deployment path from a dev laptop all the way to a production swarm.

4. There’s always an app store: Finally, one of the interesting announcements came on the second day of keynotes. This was this Docker Store. The Docker Store sounds like a single source for known good Docker deployments and images. It appears to be an extension to the previous “official” images that were in Docker Hub. This seems like a much needed extension as the official designations were never really all that clear and having the unofficials unable to mix in to the Store is a good thing. It also appears to include a paid tier for Docker images, similar to what one may see in the Amazon AWS marketplace. The Docker Store is currently in closed beta, but you can apply for access here.

General Thoughts:

With the takeaways covered, it’s now time for my unsolicited two cents. After spending two days neck deep in Docker-land, I have a few gut feelings/hunches/whatever that may or may not be even remotely true, as well as a some general observations that I thought were interesting at the time.

1. The community is still confused: What I mean here is not that community members do not understand Docker and its benefits. They clearly do and are very excited about them. What I mean is that there’s still a lot of scrambling around in regards to the “one true way” to do Docker, what tools to use, which pipeline tool to use to enable deployments, etc.. I think some of this stems from the fact that Docker itself never offered some of these tools before now and them doing so definitely threw a grenade of confusion into the crowd. As an extension…

2. The battle for container orchestration is officially here: If you have used Docker on more than on your laptop, you’ve realized that orchestrating lots of containers is hard. The de facto answer for a large scale, production cluster has been Kubernetes up to this point. Now, with the new Docker Swarm, it will be interesting to see what folks decide to do and if the built-ins are “good enough” for their production use cases. There’s been a lot of companies that have bet big on Kubernetes, so it will be an exciting time to see where people land and how the K8s team answers.

3. MSFT has bet big on Docker: Microsoft was everywhere at DockerCon. From keynotes, to booths, to sessions. It’s clear that they see Docker as a huge opportunity and it seems that they have put in a lot of work to make Docker on Windows a real contender. As anyone in the enterprise knows, there’s still a lot of Windows Server apps out there in the world. Being able to Dockerize them could be compelling for some companies.

4. Hybrid cloud makes a lot more sense: Hybrid cloud has always been a compelling case for business. However, historically, it’s been easier said than done when there are intricacies and differences that occur between, say, OpenStack on-prem and Amazon. That said, a lot of the application level aspects seem to be getting easier with the new Docker Swarm allowing any Docker engine to join whatsoever, as well as the increased interest in the Ubernetes project. I’m looking forward to this being a solved problem for sure! Give me a cluster, allow me to throw containers at it. It should be as easy as that, regardless of where the nodes in the cluster live.


  • The first keynote of course is a must-see. The announcements around orchestration and the new and improved Docker Swarm is worth watching:

  • The Day 2 Keynote was a great session, with highlights like container image security scanning, a great example of cross-cloud Swarm (with AzureStack!):

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