After Docker, what container platform?
April 5, 2021 7:57 AM   Subscribe

We have been fooling around with containers at work. Docker got kind of gutted by Mirantis last year. What should we use instead before we go big with migrating from whole VMs?

We have a ton of things like Tomcat instances running on individual Red Hat VMs, which uses a lot of resources, and we had good results by moving some to Docker. So: yay!

But Mirantis bought the heart of Docker, Inc., apparently, so.... Is Kubernetes our only real choice? What about Talos? OpenShift looks too big and unwieldy for us (a small .edu).

We know that we don't know everything, so we'll probably want some help with the implementation -- and definitely a maintenance/support contract.

Thanks for any advice, no matter how obvious it seems to you. :7)
posted by wenestvedt to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
we (a medium sized .edu) have been pretty happy with kubernetes for exactly this kind of thing. it's a bit weird and non-intuitive at first (at least for me, a person who still struggles with the idea of "cattle, not pets") but once I came around to it, it really just does make my life a lot easier.
posted by capnsue at 9:52 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


If you liked docker and have a variety of docker containers already created you might try Singularity. It's open source, works a lot like Docker ( you can convert existing containers and run them in a similar fashion). We use it in an HPC environment to deploy bioinformatics tools among other things, but it's been fairly trouble free. I believe they offer enterprise support.
posted by roue at 10:46 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Disclaimer: I work for Red Hat.

Can you share a bit more about your environment, and what you're trying to do? Are you using Docker Swarm to orchestrate containers, or are you deploying things manually and/or running a full stack inside a single container?

Depending on your budget, you can consume OpenShift (or other Kubernetes distributions) as a managed service through providers like Amazon and Azure and OpenShift Dedicated which allows you to let Red Hat take care of the OpenShift management.

Red Hat sponsors development of Podman ("Pod Manager Tool") which kind of aims to be a drop-in replacement for Docker, plus additional whistles and bells around managing pods for multi-container apps. This is included with RHEL.

There's also Rancher which was recently acquired by SUSE, which is supposed to be simpler to mange. I mention it for fairness + completeness, but I wouldn't bank on it myself.

But it really depends a lot on the size of your environment, how you're architecting your applications (and how you want to in the future) and the capabilities of the team you have working on this.
posted by jzb at 11:05 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


We use a system of Docker images (mostly really small services each, rather than a whole stack on a single one) compiled on Gitlab, k8s, and Helm charts for CI/CD to AWS. There are subtleties there that I don't really get, since I'm like two layers removed from any of the plumbing. It took a fair amount of time for several SWEs and SREs to set up, so without that you might want to go with something a little more turnkey.
posted by supercres at 11:48 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


jzb, I saw OpenShift as too much overhead for us. I met with some Red Hat folks and a consultancy, and they seem ilke the Big Leagues when we re maybe AA-level. :7)

Right now we have containers with nginx that pass through traffic to a couple of Tomcat apps. So there's a swarm for those, and the hope of more in the future. We have another Nginx container doing some light proxy/load-balance stuff -- and we would like to move the Tomcat +Java apps it front-ends onto Tomcat containers (instead of full-on RHEL VMs).

I had heard that now the Suse purchase of Rancher had closed, it was going to be a poorer choice -- but I don't understand the nuances of why people would say that. *shrug*

So we can manage our own little repo, and a collection of RHEL VMs to comprise the swarm, but we're wondering if we should face the music and convert to Kubernetes.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:09 PM on April 5


"I had heard that now the Suse purchase of Rancher had closed, it was going to be a poorer choice"

Probably because SUSE has its own Linux distro and they're going to be less likely to invest in RancherOS or support Rancher on as many platforms. Also, while I love many folks at SUSE, they've been unable to level up when it comes to products outside Linux. They've tried to branch out with OpenStack and then Cloud Foundry / Containers-as-a-Service but didn't quite make it.

"I saw OpenShift as too much overhead for us"

That's fair, but consider that OpenShift is basically a Kubernetes distro with a lot of pieces you're going to want anyway. (e.g., long term support, smoothing out upgrades, container registry, and it sounds like you want auto-scaling...)

That is to say - if you are already on RHEL and are going to embrace Kubernetes, I'd recommend OpenShift, but if it seems like too much overhead you probably don't want k8s either, IMO.

Another tool I hear good things about but don't have first-hand experience with is HashiCorp's Nomad: https://www.nomadproject.io/ -- it's a "simple and flexible workload orchestrator to deploy and manage containers and non-containerized applications across on-prem and clouds at scale." Mostly I hear about it in the context of "k8s is too heavy for us, but Nomad was just right." So that may be something to consider too.
posted by jzb at 1:21 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Our future/scaling needs led us to move from Nomad to Rabbit, but for a mediun-sized system that won't scale a ton (AA to AAA maybe, but not to Major League) I second Nomad as a decent choice (given you have team/time to implement fully).
posted by riverlife at 10:46 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]


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