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Google Using Docker Containers and Linux CoreOS to Scale Cloud Services

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Google Using Docker Containers and Linux CoreOS to Scale Cloud Services

May 28, 2014
By Laura Stotler
TMCnet Contributing Editor

When it comes to building out your cloud infrastructure, efficiency and cost are two of the most important factors. Google (News - Alert) understands this and has been making some interesting choices and alliances as the company scales out their burgeoning Google Cloud service. The latest is a move that incorporates the Linux Docker open-source container technology for virtualization.

Docker offers a virtualized environment that enables applications and their supporting libraries and programs to easily be moved around the cloud through the use of containers. Once a container is built and tested, it is ready to run at scale, on virtual machines (VMs), in production and in OpenStack clusters. That efficiency and portability makes the Docker engine extremely useful for cloud infrastructure as well as private PaaS environments.

With Docker comes the implementation of CoreOS, a new Linux distribution designed for running Docker containers in distributed settings. It will be used to run Google Compute Engine (GCE) VMs, which raises an interesting question about the company’s steady embrace of all things open source.

Last month, Google hinted it will use IBM’s (News - Alert) open source Power8 processor at the core of its new homegrown server boards. IBM has been increasingly shifting to open source as part of its own cloud initiative, and both companies are part of the OpenPower Foundation. The Power8 architecture would effectively let Google design its own processing chip. That type of freedom could certainly rock Google’s longstanding relationship with Intel (News - Alert) and its proprietary x86 architecture and open up the GCE from the hardware on up.

CoreOS and Docker fit nicely into the picture since Docker containers share the host OS, Linux, rather than including a full OS in each container, enabling a number of efficiencies and high levels of performance. With Google already running more than two billion containers per week, offering Docker-based VMs as a cloud service is a no brainer. It remains to be seen how the company will build out its infrastructure and if IBM will play an integral role in the GCE.

“CoreOS is an ideal host for distributed systems and Google Compute Engine is a perfect base for CoreOS clusters,” wrote Brandon Philips (News - Alert), CTO of CoreOS, on the company’s website. “Google runs industry-leading distributed systems and their expertise shows in the speed and stability of Google Compute Engine.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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