Category Archives: Container World

Betting on the cloud

Dan-Scholnick_v2A long-time expert on enterprise IT and cloud platforms, Dan Scholnick (General Partner, Trinity Ventures) has the distinction of having been Docker’s first venture investor. BCN spoke to him to find out the secrets to being a top level IT investor.

Know your stuff. Scholnick has a technical background, with a computer science degree from Dartmouth College. After this he worked at Wily Technology with the legendary Lew Cirne, who went on to be the founder and CEO of New Relic. At Wily, Scholnick built the first version of the company’s application performance management product.

All this gave Scholnick a natural appreciation for products and technologies that get used in the data centre as core infrastructure. It partly was this understanding that alerted him to the potential significance of Docker’s processor, dotCloud.

Know how to spot talent: The other factor was that he could recognise dotCloud founder Solomon Hykes as a technology visionary. “He had a better understanding and view of how infrastructure technology was changing than almost anyone we had met,” says Scholnick.

Of course, dotCloud didn’t turn out as expected. “It turns out we were wrong about PaaS, but we were right about the containers. Fortunately for all of us involved in the company, that container bet ended up working out.”

Know when the future is staring you in the face: When Scholnick invested in dotCloud, containers had been around for quite a long time. But they were very difficult to use. “What we learned through the dotCloud experience was how to make containers consumable. To make them easier to consume, easier to use, easier to manage, easier to operate. That’s really what Docker is all about, taking this technology that has actually been around, is great technology conceptually but has historically been very hard to use, and make it usable.”

The rest is IT history. Arguably no infrastructure technology in history has ever taken off and gained mass adoption as quickly as Docker.

“To me, the thing that’s really stunning is to see the breadth and depth of Docker usage throughout the ecosystem,” says Scholnick. “It’s truly remarkable.”

Know what’s next: When BCN asked Scholnick what he thought the next big thing would be in the cloud native movement, he points to an offshoot of Docker and Containers: microservices. “I think we’re going to see massive adoption of microservices in the next 3-5 years and we’re likely going to see some big companies built around the microservices ecosystem,” he says.” Docker certainly has a role to play in this new market: Docker is really what’s enabling it.” and

Keeping in touch with real world uses of Containers is one the reasons Scholnick will be attending and speaking at Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center).

“As a board member at Docker and as an investor in the ecosystem, it’s always good to hear the anecdotal information about how are people using Docker – as well as what pieces do they feel are missing that would help them use containers more effectively. That’s interesting to me because it point to problems that are opportunities for Docker to solve, or opportunities for new start-ups that we can fund.”

Click here to download the Container World programme

Cloud academy: Rudy Rigot and his new Holberton School

rudy rigotBusiness Cloud News talks to Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA) keynote Rudy Rigot about his new software college, which opens today.

Business Cloud News: Rudy, first of all – can you introduce yourself and tell us about your new Holberton School?

Rudy Rigot: Sure! I’ve been working in tech for the past 10 years, mostly in web-related stuff. Lately, I’ve worked at Apple as a full-stack software engineer for their localization department, which I left this year to found Holberton School.

Holberton School is a 2-year community-driven and project-oriented school, training software engineers for the real world. No classes, just real-world hands-on projects designed to optimize their learning, in close contact with volunteer mentors who all work for small companies or large ones like Google, Facebook, Apple, … One of the other two co-founders is Julien Barbier, formerly the Head of Community, Marketing and Growth at Docker.

Our first batch of students started last week!

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to anticipate?

Since we’re a project-oriented school, students are mostly being graded on the code they turn in, that they push to GitHub. Some of this code is graded automatically, so we needed to be able to run each student’s code (or each team’s code) automatically in a fair and equal way.

We needed to get information on the “what” (what is returned in the console), but also on the “how”: how long does the code take to run?  How much resource is being consumed? What is the return code? Also, since Holberton students are trained on a wide variety of languages; how do you ensure you can grade a Ruby project, and later a C project, and later a JavaScript project, etc. with the same host while minimizing issues?

Finally we had to make sure that the student can commit code that is as malicious as they want, we can’t need to have a human check it before running it, it should only break their program, not the whole host.

So how on earth do you negotiate all these?

Our project-oriented training concept is new in the United States, but it’s been successful for decades in Europe, and we knew the European schools, who built their programs before containers became mainstream, typically run the code directly on a host system that has all of the software they need directly installed on the host; and then they simply run a chroot before running the student’s code. This didn’t solve all of the problem, while containers did in a very elegant way; so we took the container road!

HolbertonCloud is the solution we built to that end. It fetches a student’s code on command, then runs it based on a Dockerfile and a series of tests, and finally returns information about how that went. The information is then used to compute a score.

What’s amazing about it is that by using Docker, building the infrastructure has been trivial; the hard part has been about writing the tests, the scoring algorithm … basically the things that we actively want to be focused on!

So you’ve made use of containers. How much disruption do you expect their development to engender over the coming years?

Since I’m personally more on the “dev” end use of devops, I see how striking it is that containers restore focus on actual development for my peers. So, I’m mostly excited by the innovation that software engineers will be focusing on instead of focusing on the issues that containers are taking care of for them.

Of course, it will be very hard to measure which of those innovations were able to exist because containers are involved; but it also makes them innovations about virtually every corner of the tech industry, so that’s really exciting!

What effect do you think containers are going to have on the delivery of enterprise IT?

I think one takeaway from the very specific HolbertonCloud use case is that cases where code can be run trivially in production are getting rare, and one needs guarantees that only containers can bring efficiently.

Also, a lot of modern architectures fulfil needs with systems that are made of more and more micro-services, since we now have enough hindsight to see the positive outcomes on their resiliences. Each micro-service may have different requirements and therefore be relevant to be done each with different technologies, so managing a growing set of different software configurations is getting increasingly relevant. Considering the positive outcomes, this trend will only keep growing, making the need for containers keep growing as well.

You’re delivering a keynote at Container World. What’s the main motivation for attending?

I’m tremendously excited by the stellar line-up! We’re all going to get amazing insight from many different and relevant perspectives, that’s going to be very enlightening!

The very existence of Container World is exciting too: it’s crazy the long way containers have gone over the span of just a few years.

Click here to learn more about Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA)

Containers: 3 big myths

schneiderJoe Schneider is DevOps Engineer at Bunchball, a company that offers gamificaiton as a service to likes of Applebee’s and Ford Canada.

This February Schneider is appearing at Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA), where he’ll be cutting through the cloudy abstractions to detail Bunchball’s real world experience with containers. Here, exclusively for Business Cloud News, Schneider explodes three myths surrounding one of the container hype…

One: ‘Containers are contained.’

If you’re really concerned about security, or if you’re in a really security conscious environment, you have to take a lot of extra steps. You can’t just throw containers into the mix and leave it at that: it’s not as secure as VM.

When we instigated containers, at least, the tools weren’t there. Now Docker has made security tools available, but we haven’t transitioned from the stance of ‘OK, Docker is what it is and recognise that’ to a more secure environment. What we have done instead is try to make sure the edges are secure: we put a lot a of emphasis on that. At the container level we haven’t done much, because the tools weren’t there.

Two: The myth of the ten thousand container deployment

You’ll see the likes of Mesosphere, or Docker Swarm, say, ‘we can deploy ten thousand containers in like thirty seconds’ – and similar claims.  Well, that’s a really synthetic test: these kinds of numbers are 100% hype. In the real world such a capacity is pretty much useless. No one cares about deploying ten thousands little apps that do literally nothing, that just go ‘hello world.’

The tricky bit with containers is actually linking them together. When you start with static hosts, or even VMs, they don’t change very often, so you don’t realise how much interconnection there is between your different applications. When you destroy and recreate your applications in their entirety via containers, you discover that you actually have to recreate all that plumbing on the fly and automate that and make it more agile. That can catch you by surprise if you don’t know about it ahead of time.

Three: ‘Deployment is straightforward’

We’ve been running containers in production for a year now. Before then we were playing around a little bit with some internal apps, but now we run everything except one application on containers in production. And that was a bit of a paradigm change for us. The line that Docker gives is that you can take your existing apps and put them in a container that’s going to work in exactly the same way. Well, that’s not really true. You have to actually think about it a little bit differently: Especially with the deployment process.

An example of a real ‘gotcha’ for us was that we presumed Systemd and Docker would play nice together and they don’t. That really hit us in the deployment process – we had to delete the old one and start a new one using system and that was always very flaky. Don’t try to home grow your own one, actually use something that is designed to work with Docker.

Click here to learn more about Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA),