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Oracle: Docker container tech will be in the Zone on Solaris

Larry's Unix to support cross-platform containers with unique Solaris features

By Neil McAllister, 30 Jul 2015

Oracle is the latest company to get on the Docker bandwagon, having announced support for the application container technology to come in a future version of Solaris Unix.

Docker arose out of the Linux world, and its original implementation takes advantage of a number of Linux kernel features, including LXC, cgroups, and namespaces.

Solaris, meanwhile, has had native support for containers since 2005, in the form of Solaris Zones. Rather than aping how Docker handles containers on Linux, Oracle plans to stick with this arguably superior technology.

What native Docker support will bring to Solaris, however, is the ability to use Docker APIs and Docker-compatible tools to package, instantiate, manage, and orchestrate containers while retaining the heightened security and other technical advantages of Zones.

"Today's announcement really gives developers the best of both worlds – access to Oracle Solaris' enterprise class security, resource isolation and superior analytics with the ability to easily create containers in dev/test, production and cloud environments," Oracle Solaris veep Markus Flieri said in a canned statement. "Integrating Docker into Oracle Solaris will make that even easier and will help customers benefit from highly integrated compute on premises and in the cloud."

Oracle has been pitching Solaris 11, the latest version, as "the first cloud OS" since it launched in 2011. It has steadily been adding a slew of cloudy features, including an OpenStack distribution and now Docker support.

Oracle isn't the first company to add support for the open source Docker technology to its proprietary OS, either. Last October, Microsoft announced that it would add Docker support to the next version of Windows Server, due to arrive sometime in 2016.

Like Oracle, Microsoft will base its containers on homegrown technology, rather than borrowing the Linux approach. The important part is that admins will be able to use the same tools to wrangle Windows Containers as they use on Linux (and soon, Solaris).

And that isn't all. Though they're normally bitter rivals, Oracle and Microsoft are actually collaborating on a common container file format and runtime as part of the Open Container Initiative (OCI), a cross-industry effort overseen by the Linux Foundation.

In addition to Microsoft and Oracle, the OCI now includes more than 30 member companies, including such prominent industry players as Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Red Hat, and VMware, among others.

As for when you'll be able to get your hands on a version of Solaris that supports Docker, we can't say. An Oracle spokeswoman told The Register via email that, much like Microsoft and Windows Server, Big Red is not providing a timeframe for Docker support yet. ®

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