Coming from Amazon Web Services: Better (but unspecified) Docker support

Amazon Web Services is working on some form of Docker support to be revealed at AWS Re:Invent last week. How do we know this? Because Jeff Barr, AWS evangelist, tweeted this on November 3:

AWS Re:Invent officially kicks off on November 11.

Containers are an emerging alternative to virtualized machines (VMs), and AWS is pretty much founded on the heavy use of VMs, so this could raise eyebrows. But perceived performance and efficiency advantages of containers versus VMs is driving change across the industry. Barr’s tweet prompted speculation that [company]Amazon[/company] will announce some sort of Docker as a Service. Developers can already use Docker with Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon’s Platform-as-a Service product, but developers expect richer, more formal support to come for the rest of Amazon’s infrastructure services.

Over the past year, [company]Docker[/company] support has become table stakes for almost every tech company with a cloud play. And many of those companies, including Microsoft, IBM and Red Hat, have likewise embraced Kubernetes, the Google-backed open-source container management tool. No one really expects Amazon to bless Kubernetes — AWS sees Google Cloud Platform as a direct threat — but it does need to do something about Docker.

The very fact that Barr tweeted the Docker tease could indicate that increasing competition in public cloud is driving AWS to behave a bit differently than when it had the market to itself. It may just be me, but it seems to be announcing stuff early to keep the focus on AWS rather than its competitors.

Another example: In late October, it announced AWS Directory Services, a huge step toward easing hybrid cloud deployments, a few weeks in advance of Re:invent. That tidbit came a week after AWS announced the opening of its long-rumored German data center. Some AWS watchers disagree, contending that Amazon typically announces stuff when it’s available versus pre-announcing what was once called vaporware. Still there’s that Docker tweet, which came a day before Google announced the Google Container Engine, basically a managed Kubernetes service.

[company]Google[/company] is relatively new to the public cloud game, with Google Cloud Platform becoming broadly available in December 2013, but it’s a well-funded effort that targets not just startups — the constituency that drove AWS growth — but big companies as well. Amazon is into year three of an aggressive enterprise push and [company]Microsoft[/company] with its enterprise customer base is also a formidable competitor with Azure.

Interestingly, one of the featured speakers at this week’s Google Platform Live event was Kevin Baillie, co-founder of Atomic Fiction, who announced the company’s new Atomic Conductor rendering service. For those keeping score, Baillie was also on stage at last year’s AWS Re:Invent. Atomic Fiction was just one of several AWS customers emblazoned on Google’s slides Tuesday.

This week Google, next week Amazon: let the cloud games continue.