May 26, 2017

Docker 1.12 became generally available on July 28, bringing baked-in Swarm orchestration and performance and security enhancements to the container platform. Here’s a look at what you need to know about the new Docker release.

If you’ve been following Docker news this summer, you’ve probably already heard about Docker 1.12. It made headlines in June when Docker announced at DockerCon that Swarm would come built in to the Docker 1.12 release.

Swarm Integration and Partners

From a partner channel and ecosystem perspective, the Swarm integration is big news. It reduces the need for partners to add orchestration tooling to the Docker stack, and encourages them to focus on building out the Docker ecosystem in other areas.

For the record, you don’t have to use Swarm in Docker 1.12. “Swarm mode is an option to be switched on; batteries included but swappable,” Docker said in announcing the 1.12 release. That means you can still use a different orchestrator, such as Kubernetes, if you choose.

That said, the value of a third-party orchestration tool decreases when an official Docker tool is already built into the release. When you include batteries inside the box, people are pretty unlikely to throw them away and replace them with their own batteries once they’ve opened the box.

Swarm Features: Performance and Security

The significance of Swarm and Docker 1.12 doesn’t end with partners. Swarm also adds a slew of new built-in features to the Docker 1.12 release.

They include things such as an in-memory caching layer for high-performance scheduling. Docker has been touting what it believes to be Swarm’s performance advantages for some time. The company appears committed to continuing to market its tool set on the grounds of performance.

Swarm-enabled Docker 1.12 also offers a new service deployment API. It’s designed to provide a central interface for defining an application for Swarm to orchestrate automatically by providing high availability and health checks.

Security

Docker also is emphasizing security features in the Docker 1.12 release. Docker calls the 1.12 release “secure by default.” That claim rests in large part on the fact that Docker Engine provides mutually authenticated TLS certificates.

Security is an obvious angle for Docker to play up. As enterprise adoption of containers continues, and companies begin using them to run production applications rather than just for staging, security is sure to come under closer scrutiny.

Conclusion

Weeks before it was released, people were talking about Docker 1.12 because of the Swarm integration. That may be the most significant dimension of the new release, but the feature set in Docker 1.12 is notable in its own right.

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.