June 28, 2017

Network monitoring company ThousandEyes has become the latest vendor to integrate Docker containers into a commercial product. This week, the company announced that one of its monitoring tools, Enterprise Agents, can now run inside Docker containers for simplified deployment.

Enterprise Agents are ThousandEyes’s solution for collecting information about network performance. They can run on a range of different types of infrastructure, both locally and inside a cloud-based application. Until this week, they supported the major Linux-based operating systems, as well as Windows Server, Hyper-V, VMware ESXi and Oracle VirtualBox.

On April 13, ThousandEyes announced that it has added Docker containers to the list of environments supported by Enterprise Agents. The offering is designed to make it easier to deploy the monitoring software inside the data center by leveraging the simplicity and portability of containerized tools, according to the company.

“Docker containers are a simple and standardized way to build, deploy and run applications,” ThousandEyes said in a statement. “With this support, ThousandEyes Enterprise Agents now more easily deploy within the organization’s IT infrastructure delivering deep network performance insights to key services and applications traversing an organization’s branches and data centers, as well as WAN and external providers. ThousandEyes’ Docker support enables organizations to more rapidly deploy Enterprise Agents and build automated clusters across multiple locations, offering a valuable solution for DevOps,cloud-native companies, and other organizations moving to containerized environments.”

Nick Kephart, Head of Product Marketing at ThousandEyes, suggested that the decision to support Docker containers reflects what the company sees as growing interest in using Docker for production environments. “As adoption of container technology matures anduse cases expand, more organizations will deploy additional operational services using Docker,” Kephart said. “Our support for Docker containers means that network operations teams can more easily and automatically deploy ThousandEyes EnterpriseAgents anywhere and everywhere they need. Our DevOps and cloud-native customers will find a great deal of value in this new support.”

This makes the ThousandEyes move one more sign that Docker containers are now very much in the adoption phase.

At the same time, it reflects interest in using containers to solve networking challenges. That’s interesting because there has so far been little discussion of containers’ ability to make networking better. In fact, until Docker 1.9 appeared last fall with simplified networking features, developers were happy if they could just connect containerized apps to the network at all, let alone use containers to help monitor the network. But ThousandEyes clearly sees Docker containers as a technology that is now mature enough to work in complex networking situations.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.