Enterprises interested in tapping container technology now have a brand-new option for managing it: ContainerX, a multitenant container-as-a-service platform for both Linux and Windows.
Launched into beta last November by a team of engineers from Microsoft, VMware and Citrix, the service became generally available in both free and paid versions on Thursday. Promising an all-in-one platform for orchestration, compute, network, and storage management, it provides a single "pane of glass" for all of an enterprise's containers, whether they're running on Linux or Windows, bare metal or virtual machine, public or private cloud.
The idea is to make life easier for IT admins who "don't want a do-it-yourself project," the company says. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are also available for businesses that want to integrate the platform’s capabilities into their custom management portals.
Among ContainerX's key features are elastic container clusters, which aim to let enterprises build a resilient and highly elastic container infrastructure with resource isolation among what the company calls "container pools" of resources. That way, if there is a "rogue" container draining computing or network resources, it will not affect the rest of the bunch.
A free version of ContainerX is now available for up to 100 CPU cores. Paid versions for enterprises and service providers are priced based on the number of logical CPU cores.
More than half of companies surveyed for a recent Cloud Foundry Foundation report said they were either evaluating or already using containers, while a full 64 percent anticipate making their use mainstream within a year. Eighty-four percent said that managing containers without a cloud application platform would be a challenge.
Enterprises are changing the way they use containers, said Paul Miller, a senior analyst with Forrester.
"We're seeing a clear shift, as use moves from small teams of developers towards a more strategic consideration of the value containers can bring to the business," Miller explained.
Some companies use containers to empower development teams as they rearchitect core but monolithic business systems, he said. Others use them to ensure that infrastructure teams can manage finite computing resources more efficiently.
Containers offer the ability to increase customer value while managing spending on infrastructure, but "the first generation of container management tools just wasn't up to the job," Miller said. "They tackled part of the problem, and they needed extensive customization, and they were just too hard."
Newer offerings are beginning to offer something "far more compelling," he added. "It's early days for real enterprise adoption of containers, but the tools to enable that are certainly beginning to arrive in something approaching a usable form."