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Docker containers slide into production with Tutum deal

Docker has acquired container management provider Tutum to help transition its much talked about technology from an intriguing, emerging technology to one that can be trusted to run in production.

Docker made a small but important acquisition as it seeks to harness all the hype around Linux containers and move more of those Dockerized applications into production settings.

Docker Inc., the commercial entity behind the open source project for building and deploying containerized applications, has acquired Tutum Inc., a New York-based SaaS provider that offers a platform to deploy and manage Dockerized applications in production. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry observers say it's a smart move for Docker, the San Francisco-based startup.

Tutum jumped on the Docker bandwagon early, launching its services around the open source technology in October 2013. It will be integrated into Docker Hub, the company's cloud service for workflow automation, and it is used to speed deployments and provide a common framework for managing and scaling distributed applications both on-premises and in the cloud.

Tutum helps push Docker into production

Where Docker took off with the developer community for the build phase, Tutum enables the run phase, said Geoff Woollacott, practice manager and principal analyst at Technology Business Research Inc., in Hampton, N.H. It's a nice acquisition that better positions Docker for enterprise-wide standardization for containerized workloads --  a need that will only increase as businesses move to more agile systems of engagement.

"Tutum is Docker growing up and putting on long pants," Woollacott said.

Docker also acquired the software networking company SocketPlane earlier this year, and bought London-based Orchard Laboratories to improve multi-container orchestration and composition last year.

Dallas-based consulting firm first utilized Docker through Tutum as it sought to quickly onboard the container technology and implement some level of abstraction. The company still uses it extensively for the Web-based properties it manages, said E.T. Cook, chief advocate at

It uses Docker across DigitalOcean, Linode, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its own on-premises bare- metal. Tutum has helped demystify Docker and make the container technology more approachable not only for improved agility, but for quickly testing an environment to ensure it's the best place for a specific workload, Cook said.

"Docker isn't so bad once you have it set up, but the onboarding process can be really tedious and I think Tutum does solve that problem in an acute way," Cook said.

Docker's acquisition of a small container management company makes sense, said Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.

"As more startups and enterprises leverage Docker containers, they need management tooling, often falling somewhat between infrastructure management and app deployment management -- basically from build through test to run," Bartoletti said.

Tutum aims to be more than raw infrastructure as a service, but not as restrictive as full platform as a service, Bartoletti said. It has some overlap with scheduling and clustering tools such as Google Kubernetes, but the focus is on the full container lifecycle.

Gazelle Inc., a Boston-based e-commerce site, turned to Docker because it wanted to run encapsulated, immutable applications, as well as more efficient use of its AWS EC2 instances and a reworked system configuration management.

Gazelle looked at Amazon's container service, as well as others, but didn't actually make the move to containerized applications until it used Tutum, said Max Newell, director of DevOps at Gazelle. It stands out because of the way it defines the software stack, which is similar to Docker Compose but better suited for production environments.

The company is using Tutum on a limited number of apps in production and plans to move almost everything else there in the coming months. Being acquired by Docker should only help Tutum, Newell said.

"It's a really good fit," Newell said. "It makes what was a company that seemed like it had a lot of promise, but had a hard time finding the right commercial niche, into something that has a really strong chance to flourish."

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected]

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