June 27, 2017

From Swarm integration to better security solutions, 2016 was a big year for containers. Here’s a recap of the leading container stories from the past year from the Docker world and beyond.

The container ecosystem started strong in 2016. In January, Docker announced that it had acquired Unikernels Inc. The move has not yet borne any fruit that is publicly evident, but it could pave the way for Docker to do some interesting things down the road using unikernels technology. (For a look at what other organizations are already doing with unikernels technology, click here.)

Spring 2016 saw CoreOS and Docker unveil container image scanners called Clair and Docker Security Scanning, respectively. Both tools were an important step forward for container security. They don’t secure the entire container stack, but they make the images inside container registries safer.

Also in the spring, the first stable version of LXD, Canonical’s system container platform, debuted. So far, there have been no signs of massive LXD adoption (beyond some limited use for OpenStack deployments). But the technology is significant because it offers a new way to virtualize entire operating systems using containers—in a fashion similar to what OpenVZ has been able to do for years (but OpenVZ is subject to more limitations, such as the need for a special kernel).

In June, Docker made big headlines by announcing at DockerCon that it was baking Swarm right into the core Docker platform, among other big changes. The move followed an effort by Docker a few months earlier to portray Swarm as the container orchestrator with the best performance—a claim against which the Kubernetes folks fought back rather determinedly.

Fall 2016 was a calmer time in the container world. But it saw some significant announcements on the containers-as-a-service (CaaS) front, such as the expansion of features on Amazon’s ECS platform and SUSE’s announcement of MicroOS, a new CaaS platform.

2016 closed on a somber note. In the last week of the year, ClusterHQ went out of business. It was the first major container startup to do so. It’s a good bet that 2017 will see other young companies succumb to the intense competitiveness of the container ecosystem, too —but that’s fodder for next December’s year-in-review piece.

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.