AWS Elastic Beanstalk has Docker fever

The first production-ready version of a popular Linux container can be automated through Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk platform.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk has updated its support for a Linux container that experts say could grow into a new standard for application portability among Linux servers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Beanstalk has supported the popular Docker Linux container since April, but last week upgraded its support to version 1.0, the first version to be pronounced production-ready by founder Docker Inc. Previous versions of Docker were not recommended for production use until bugs were fixed and the stability of the containers was assured.

Companies can package applications using Docker 1.0 on their own, or provide a text-based Docker file with instructions on how to create an image, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk will build and run the container for them, according to a post made last week in the AWS Elastic Beanstalk Developer Forum. Docker on Elastic Beanstalk can also integrate with Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud and Relational Database Service.

If you're going to be in the PaaS market, that means supporting Docker.
Jay Lymananalyst, 451 Group

Linux containers aren't new, but Docker has made them portable across multiple servers and distributions of the Linux operating system, according to Jay Lyman, analyst with the 451 Group based in Boston, Massachusetts.

"Docker is emerging as a standard way to package apps amid a lack of standards," Lyman said. Other cloud companies such as Red Hat Inc. and Google have also integrated Docker into their platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. There are now 14,000 "Docker-ized" apps available in the Docker Hub Registry.

"If you're going to be in the PaaS market, that means supporting Docker," Lyman said.

AWS is not the only PaaS game in town

AWS Elastic Beanstalk wouldn't support Docker without interested customers, but AWS is not quite the 800-pound gorilla in PaaS that it is in infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Customers have many options for polyglot PaaS deployments, such as SalesForce's Force.com PaaS platform, which some AWS shops say they prefer.

"[Docker is] not relevant for us yet," said Sean Perry, CIO for Robert Half International, a Menlo Park, California-based staffing firm. "I think it will be eventually, but less as a PaaS play -- it's another version of IaaS, but [it's] more efficiently packaged."

In the meantime, Perry still prefers to use Salesforce.com's Force.com subsidiary for application development.

"We have built and deployed apps in days where we didn't need to know or care about the physical infrastructure or operating system, or database, or authentication," he said. "Not that Docker isn't relevant; I just hope it becomes a specific niche solution when we can't do things on a platform that eliminates the need for the type of capabilities it provides."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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