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Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in DevOps | 0 comments

Docker – The Next VMware?

I had a conversation with a customer a couple of months ago around Docker. “Is Docker a threat to VMware”? Was the question posed. “The pants company”? Was my reply. The truth is I had never heard of a Docker container until a few months ago and was completely blindsided by my customer.  So if you’re like me and mainly live on the infrastructure side of the house, hopefully the information I’ve found will be helpful in understanding how Docker and VMware can potentially play together.

First I’ll provide a visual that will hopefully clear things up. Think of a container as you would a shipping container. In the VMware world, that container would contain virtual hardware, a guest OS, applications and all of their dependencies. They would be completely isolated from one another and live in perfect harmony. Docker containers are similar except their containers would hold only an application and its dependencies.

In that context the picture would resemble this one:


In the infrastructure world, these would be VMs placed nice and neat stacked up on vSphere riding on a host and would be monitored, managed, secure and highly available.

A Docker world would be similar.  Applications would live side by side, yet be completely isolated and portable.  A Docker user could stuff a container with an application, then a fellow developer could share it and install another component into that container and place it back on the stack.  In Docker terminology, this would be a ‘Docker Hub’.  BUT, keep in mind a Docker container still must run on something.

So to play out the analogy a little further, it would look something like this:


As you can tell I think in very simple terms. To me the difference is the ship. vSphere is a world class hypervisor. I don’t say that because VMware pays my bills, I see the amount of effort and ingenouity our R&D and QA teams put into our releases time and time again. There are other hypervisors out there, but if your mission critical container is loaded on a brand-x hypervisor, the picture could dramatically change.


container spill

You get the idea. Docker containers are cool and there’s value to them, but they still need some level of infrastructure in order to work, so I don’t believe it’s an ‘either-or’ strategy, but an ‘and’.  In the above image there’s a massive disaster about to happen and there’s one person being lowered from a helicopter presumably to save the day.  DON’T BE THAT PERSON!  Be the person that recommends the containers are loaded on the most stable ship on the ocean – vSphere!

Docker was the topic of conversation at a VMworld briefing I attended with one of my customers this year.  They were interested in brokering native Docker containers with Cloud Foundry – all of which is fully supported.  There’s actually quite a few YouTube videos out there.  Search ‘Cloud Foundry Docker’ in YouTube if you’re interested in seeing any.

If you also attended VMworld this year, you may have seen the session with Docker CEO Ben Golub who presented with our own Chris Wolf, Office of the CTO on how Docker is better on VMware.  Check out Chris’s blog post here –

So to answer my own topic question: “Docker, the next VMware”?  “No”.  This is a story of ‘and‘, not a story of ‘or‘.  Bottom line is Docker is better on VMware.




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