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Another day, another virtualiser gives Docker a big sloppy kiss

Xen promises its Orchestrator will treat VMs and Containers with equal respect

By Simon Sharwood, 9 Sep 2014

Scarcely a day passes without one enterprise software outfit or another declaring that Docker's version of Linux containerisation is the mutt's nuts, and on Monday the Xen Project took its turn.

Like anyone else capable of spelling “VM”, the folks at Xen appreciate containerisation's speed, light weight, density and overall simplicity. Like everyone in the data centre caper, Xen also worries what happens if the single OS beneath lots of containers is attacked. And like just about anyone that can already wrangle a fleet of virtual machines, Xen thinks the kit it has developed for the rather-more-mature world of virtual computing can be turned to management of Docker containers, or at least to easy creation and handling of VMs running Docker.

Xen says its Orchestra (XO) tool is the one for the job, especially once the project gets around to tweaking it with the following features:

  • "Docker-Ready Templates in One Click: This feature will be released this year. In a few words, you can request our template directly from your XO interface, it will be downloaded and operational in your own infrastructure with a Docker listening and ready for action,Iin the resources you choose to allocate (CPU, RAM, Disk). No installation: It works out of the box.
  • ACL and Delegation: The perfect workflow rest upon integration of ACLs in Xen Orchestra is our current priority. In our case, it allows VM delegation for your team using Docker; the VM can be rollbacked or rebooted without asking you.
  • Docker Control from XO: Because we can get the IP of a VM thanks to its Xen tools, we should be able to send command to the Docker API directly through XO. In this way, you’ll just have to use one interface for Docker AND Xen (at least, for simple Docker operations). And take the best of XO for both: ACLs, visualization etc. This last feature is not in our current roadmap, but will probably pop up early in 2015!"

Olivier Lambert, the creator of Xen Orchestra Project, writes that “With Docker and Xen on the same team, the two technologies work in tandem to create an extremely efficient, best-of-breed infrastructure”. He adds that “Finally uniting them in one interface is a big leap ahead!”

Docker has struck up a lot of relationships with folks who matter – VMware, Cisco, Parallels, Digital Ocean and now Xen – in a very short time. All have pretty much the same premise: Docker is not a threat to virtualisation but a complementary approach that is useful for applications, but needs the firmer underpinnings that mature virtualisation toolkits offer.

All that remains is to see how users react to the idea that VMs and containers deserve to cohabit within businesses and management tools. What do you think? ®

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