As we close out 2018, we at Container Journal wanted to highlight the five most popular articles of the year. Following is the second in our weeklong series of the Best of 2018.
What can Docker do? The most obvious answer involves DevOps and continuous delivery. But the use cases for Docker containers extend well beyond the traditional DevOps realm.
Docker containers became so popular in part because Docker’s debut in 2013 coincided with the rise of the DevOps movement.
DevOps encouraged the continuous delivery of applications. Containers help to achieve faster software delivery speeds by simplifying installation and reducing the complexity of software environments.
Containers—and the microservices architectures that they help to enable—also make applications agile. Agile is another goal associated with DevOps.
For these reasons, containers have become the go-to solution for companies seeking to embrace DevOps and achieve continuous delivery.
Docker Use Cases Beyond DevOps
Yet, Docker’s use cases include more than just building continuous delivery pipelines for your typical commercial software application.
Consider also the following examples of how Docker containers are now being used:
- NASA’s Land Information System (LIS). The LIS traditionally has been difficult to install due to complex software dependencies. With Docker, LIS installation has become much easier. This makes LIS accessible to a larger group of users. This is an interesting example of how Docker can be used to simplify software installation in a setting that you wouldn’t traditionally associate with DevOps principles or a fixation on continuous delivery. In this case, NASA uses Docker mostly to simplify the installation process, not achieve continuous delivery.
- Bioinformatics software. A segment of the bioinformatics industry is leveraging Docker container images to build BioShadock, a custom Docker registry for bioinformatics tools and software. As community members explain in this paper, the goal of BioShadock is to provide a concentrated repository of bioinformatics programs without relying on generic Docker registries. In addition, because the software is available as containers, it can be installed easily.
- LAN caches. Want to host a LAN party (yes, those are still a thing) but don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up your own LAN cache? You can use this Docker container to handle the dirty work for you. Admittedly, this may not be a Docker use case that will benefit a large number of people. It is, however, an interesting example of the rather obscure problems that Docker containers can solve.
- Internet of Things. It was always only a matter of time before Docker containers entered the IoT realm. That time has now arrived, with projects such as Resin.io leveraging Docker to solve software deployment and management challenges for IoT devices.
- Federal government software. The U.S. federal government software ecosystem is a universe unto itself. Docker has quietly but persistently been working to conquer the government market, starting with the announcement of compliance controls for Docker Datacenter in 2016. Can Docker solve all of the U.S. government’s problems? Most likely not. But it may prove valuable for use cases involving convoluted government applications.