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Docker in production will help Hyatt operations stay nimble

Container orchestration and microservices can make DevOps pipeline tools hot-swappable.

The promise of containers is the ability to run any type of application on any host without the need to worry about the language in which it's written or the underlying OS. Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels will use Docker in production in the next year, implementing Docker Swarm to decouple IT infrastructure from applications. Container-based deployment will let the organization smoothly adopt apps written in different programming languages as technology evolves, said Ray Krueger, VP of engineering at Hyatt.

"Once we have this fully-blown platform for running containers, that empowers us to make all kinds of interesting decisions on what we run and how we run it, because we've abstracted the 'how we run it' part," Krueger said.

Containers have their own learning curve, particularly container orchestration through tools such as Docker Swarm, Krueger acknowledged. A dedicated container operations team has begun the learning process around container orchestration by first using containers in simple VM-based deployments, before using Docker in production.

"We wanted to get really good at running containers first," Krueger said. "We just build cookie-cutter VMs that have the Docker Engine, Nagios and Splunk on them."

Over the next year, Hyatt expects to invest heavily in preparing for Docker in production.

"The point we're at now we've mostly gotten to without throwing a lot of money at it," Krueger said. "We're going to start looking to move as many things onto that platform as we can."

The DevOps effort has been successful so far because other teams in the IT organization come to the engineering group and ask how they can get on board with software automation projects, Krueger said. More quickly adopting new applications also means the ability to experiment more freely with software features that can add value for customers, Krueger said.

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