August 23, 2017

While Marathon may not draw as much attention these days as other container orchestration technologies, work surrounding the platform continues. With the latest version of the DC/OS platform from Mesosphere, the Marathon container orchestration engine now comes baked in.

Tal Broda, vice president of engineering for Mesosphere, says with version 1.8 of DC/OS via a new Services Feature the Marathon container orchestration engine can be more naturally invoked, with the same dashboard IT administrators employ to schedule jobs and perform other tasks. The end result is a more refined IT management experience.

Other new container-related capabilities include support for virtual networks at the container level. Via support for the Container Network Interface (CNI) standard, every container now can have its own unique IP address. In addition to dynamic port allocation, this capability will simplify integration with other networking and security tools as well as enabling DC/OS networking via third-party CNI plugins in the future.

Version 1.8 of Mesophere also includes support for a DC/OS universal container runtime—an extension of the unified containerizer that shipped with the Apache Mesos 1.0 release last July. That capability makes it possible to deploy Docker containers on DC/OS without relying on the Docker daemon. The native container runtime capabilities of Mesos provide a much more robust, highly available alternative to running Docker containers, says Broda.

Finally, Mesosphere has also added container-level authorization and fine-grained access control across services, jobs and packages deployed on DC/OS.

While it’s still early days in terms of standardizing on one container orchestration engine versus another, Mesosphere is clearly betting that IT operations teams are about to exercise a lot more influence on container management issues. Rather than managing containers in isolation, Broda says it’s clear that IT organizations view containers as just one of many classes of application workloads they need to manage. Because of that issue, Mesosphere is betting that in time that adoption of DC/OS will result in more usage of Marathon to manage container with a larger data center operating environment as part of what it describes as a new Container 2.0 era.

At the core of that debate, of course, is to what degree developers versus IT operations professionals will influence the selection of a container orchestration platform. At the moment, developers tend to exercise the most amount of influence largely because IT operations teams have yet to express any opinion at all. But as container applications find their way into production environments, that choice of container orchestration platform is likely to become more significant to the IT operations team. Because of that issue, both Mesosphere and Docker Inc. have embedded container orchestration in their core management platforms because the container orchestration engine that fits neatly within the context of a larger IT management platform is likely to gain more favor inside the enterprise.

Naturally, none of that means there won’t be multiple container orchestration engines deployed across the enterprise. Some developers may prefer to maintain control over both the development of containers and their orchestration. But it does mean in time one container orchestration platform is likely to undoubtedly attain supremacy over all others.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.