The launch of Docker version 1.0 will disrupt the server virtualisation market and speed cloud adoption as businesses increasingly run applications on Linux containers, according to analysts Forrester Research.

Docker offers open source tools that enable users to package an application in a virtual container which can be deployed across multiple Linux servers. While it has similarities with hypervisor virtualisation, a Docker container is more lightweight as it does not require a full OS to be created like a typical virtual machine, and instead shares part of the host OS. This means that containers can be quicker to create and launch than the hypervisor-led approach.

According to Forrester Research analyst Charlie Dai, while the technology is still maturing, enterprise data centre managers should be taking note of developments following the Docker release last week, and predicted that Docker containers will encroach on the traditional virtualisation market.

"We believe that Docker-based solutions will disrupt the server virtualisation market segment and further drive the adoption of cloud," said Dai in a blog post.

"Docker still has a long way to go. It must enable complex enterprise applications in the cloud, much as VMware vApp simplifies the deployment of multitier applications, have more user-friendly graphical user interfaces for easy management, and provide more debugging and tracing features.

"But we believe that it's time for tech management decision-makers to keep an eye on Docker and consider embedding it into cloud solutions to improve business outcomes."

Enterprise-ready

Having been released a year ago, Docker has been making steps towards greater enterprise adoption, and has received growing support from vendors. Earlier this week, Red Hat announced that the latest version of its RHEL operating system would support Docker's tools. Google also uses the tools in its own Google Compute Engine cloud services, as well as implementing container technology in its own data centres.

There is also integration with the Havana version of infrastructure as a service (Iaas) framework OpenStack.

Early adopters of the technology have included global independent software vendors and local solution providers. According to Dai, the release of Docker version 1.0 makes it more widely accessible "for commercial use".

Container benefits

There are a number of advantages for Docker containers, Dai said. From a technology perspective, it offers advantages over more widely adopted virtualisation technologies.

"Unlike hypervisor-based solutions such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, Docker leverages Linux containers for virtualisation. As a result, the containers will be much smaller than traditional virtual machine (VM) images and boot much faster than VMs. Developers can also easily compare containers, debug any problems, and deploy containers onto Amazon Web Services," he said.

It will also allow IT staff to speed the deployment of applications in development and production, and allow for faster movement across on-premise servers and VMs in the cloud.

"Technical practitioners can ship unmodified business applications faster, on any platform, across on-premises servers and VMs in the cloud. This makes them more agile and able to respond to business requirements and market developments by using the "Copy > Run" procedure rather than the traditional "Install > Configure > Run" mode."