The State of the Container Ecosystem Today

Docker containers are getting all the press, especially in the wake of DockerCon 2016. But Docker’s not the only show in town. Lest we forget the other container platforms that are out there, here’s a look at the current state of the container ecosystem as a whole, from Docker to CoreOS to LXC and LXD.

Docker

We’ll start with Docker. It’s the most popular container platform and company right now. It’s also the one with the deepest pockets, with $180 million in funding so far.

Docker’s latest moves, which it announced at DockerCon in mid-June, center on shipping a more tightly integrated product by building Swarm orchestration tools directly into Docker Engine.

That creates some questions for Docker partners, since it means they have fewer opportunities to add value to Docker itself. But it is also likely to make Docker more attractive to enterprises because baked-in orchestration reduces some of Docker’s complexity.

CoreOS

Then there’s CoreOS, the other startup staking its reputation on containers. The CoreOS camp has been relatively quiet as of late. The company’s last significant announcement was the launch of Torus, an open source distributed storage platform.

Yet CoreOS’s $48 million in funding is nothing to sneeze at. And because CoreOS’s platform includes not just containers themselves but also a Linux-based OS to run them on, tools like flannel for networking and, again, distributed storage, the company is building a more holistic offering that sets it apart from Docker.

Where will CoreOS be in five years? That’s hard to say with certainty, but at a minimum, I’m betting it will still be around—which is not nothing.

LXD

Last but not least (depending on how you count) is LXD, the newest container platform to hit production. Released by Canonical this spring, LXD is a container offering based on LXC.

Canonical says that LXD is not designed to compete with Docker as much as complement it. LXD supports different types of container scenarios, the company says; for example, it can easily virtualize an entire OS.

For now, LXD remains tied to the ecosystem surrounding Ubuntu, Canonical’s Linux distribution. But support is gradually expanding to include other Linux platforms, too. Once LXD finishes growing up, it’s likely to live in the niches that Docker and CoreOS don’t cover.

Christopher Tozzi

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.

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