IBM-Docker Alliance Gives Partners A Cloud Opportunity

IBM's new alliance with Docker, under which Big Blue will offer Docker's container technology for building and running applications, will create opportunities for IBM ISVs and channel partners that offer their products on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

Docker and IBM unveiled the alliance Thursday. IBM announced a beta release of IBM Containers, its version of the Docker container service, delivered as part of IBM's Bluemix application development Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Bluemix runs on IBM's SoftLayer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

Docker's container technology makes it possible for developers to build portable applications that aren't tied to specific hardware and software infrastructures. That improves developer productivity and provides IT managers with more application deployment flexibility. It's also easier for ISVs and solution providers to package and ship new application products.

[Related: DockerCon EU Reveals Docker's Upcoming Open Orchestration Features, Commercial Enterprise Repository ]

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Providing Docker's technology will help customers and partners develop portable applications that run either in the cloud or on-premises, said Angel Diaz, IBM vice president of open technology and cloud performance solutions, in an interview. That means customers and partners can develop "containerized" software that can be moved between the cloud -- including IBM SoftLayer -- and on-premises as needed.

"You don't want to build an application that doesn't have longevity," Diaz said, noting Docker's fit with IBM's emphasis on hybrid computing. "You want to drive a flexible architecture."

IBM is in discussions with its channel partners about what role they can play in working with the Docker software, Diaz said. But he said it's too soon to disclose details. "We'll have a lot more to say about that," he said.

But Diaz said ISV and solution provider partners could use the Docker tools to develop applications that can be offered through the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

Vizuri, a Herndon, Va.-based IT consulting company and solution provider, has been a Docker partner since April. "Docker is a critical part of our overall cloud and integration strategy," said Joe Dickman, a Vizuri senior vice president, in an interview.

Given Vizuri's role as a middleware integration service provider, the key for the company is that Docker's technology enables application development and portability across platforms from the multiple vendors with which Vizuri works. "Docker is greasing the skids to increase that interoperability. It will run anywhere," Dickman said.

Many of Vizuri's customers are IBM shops, or use some IBM products in their data centers. So the Docker-IBM deal will pay dividends for Vizuri by making application development, deployment and integration tasks easier, Dickman said.

Through the alliance, IBM also will resell Docker Hub Enterprise, the company's new container management suite, as well as Docker's new APIs (application programmer interfaces) for orchestrating applications from development through deployment.

"Docker Hub Enterprise is Docker's foundation for establishing relationships with our rapidly expanding enterprise customer base, who view the Docker open platform as the cornerstone of their distributed application strategy," said Ben Golub, Docker CEO, in a statement. "These organizations want a behind-the-firewall solution that enables them to leverage both the broader ecosystem and the more dynamic development environment that Dockerization has enabled.

"Our vision for DHE is that it will evolve from the place to share and collaborate on distributed applications to a strategic control point for both developers and [system administrators] to manage all aspects of the application development life cycle -- from build through production -- on any infrastructure they choose," he said.

For Docker, the alliance with IBM offers an entre into the enterprise computing market, Diaz said. IBM will combine and integrate Docker's software with IBM technology, services and use cases

The core Docker technology is an open source project while Docker Inc., the company, offers commercial versions of the software, including the new Docker Hub Enterprise.

Docker, which held its DockerCon EU conference in Amsterdam, Holland, this week, has been one of this year's hottest technology companies. In September, the San Francisco-based firm raised $40 million in third-round venture financing.