Docker Acquihires Orchard in Bid to Commercialize Docker Containers

Hykes says Orchard founders closer to answer to container management than anyone else in the Docker ecosystem.

Jason Verge

July 23, 2014

2 Min Read

Docker has acquired Orchard Labs, a two-man operation based in London that provides users with hosted Docker in the cloud and Fig, an open source tool for container orchestration.

Docker's "containers" ease deployment of an application across a variety of data centers, devices or clouds. Docker just recently released version 1.0 and has already garnered tremendous interest and support for its container solution. The acquisition of Orchard brings in tools and expertise that will help the company extend capabilities and commercialize the open source container technology. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Commercialization efforts are focused on paid support and developer tools, as well as potentially a hosted version.

Orchard brings a Docker orchestration tool with capabilities to manage and monitor containers. It will also bring a new European office in London, and the company will tap talent there as well as around its headquarters in San Francisco.

Orchard co-founders, Aanand Prasad and Ben Firshman, the CEO, will take over the developer environment (dubbed DX) initiatives at Docker. “The goal of DX is to make Docker awesome to use for developers,” writes Solomon Hykes, Docker founder and CTO. “This means anything, from fixing UI details, improving Mac and Windows support, providing more tutorials, integrating with other popular developer tools, or simply using Docker a lot and reporting problems.”

Orchard's hosted Docker service has been discontinued as a result of the acquisition. “Both Orchard and Fig are small pieces of the puzzle,” writes Orchard in its acquisition announcement. “While Fig has caught on, Orchard hasn’t to the same extent, so we’ll be closing it down on October 23rd.”

While aspects of Fig will be incorporated into Docker, the Fig tool will remain open source.. “Fig is by far the easiest way to orchestrate the deployment of multi-container applications, and has been called ‘the perfect Docker companion for developers’,” writes Hykes.

“With Fig, Ben and Aanand got closer to an answer than anybody else in the ecosystem. They have a natural instinct for building awesome developer tools, with just the right blend of simplicity and flexibility.”

Fig makes it possible to build complex applications using multiple Docker containers. It does this using a YAML file to describe relationships between interconnected containers in a multi-container application. Orchard will help incorporate orchestration interfaces into Docker in addition to maintaining Fig.

Fig is similar to a Red Hat tool called geard, a command-line client and agent for integrating and linking Docker containers into systemd across multiple hosts.

Docker is evolving into an infrastructure for distributed services rather than just a way to organize applications. This is Docker’s first acquisition under the Docker name. Docker was previously known as DotCloud and acquired a Platform-as-a-Service startup called Duostack in 2011.

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