Docker Acquires SocketPlane to Boost Container Networking

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 04, 2015

Docker, Inc., the corporate sponsor of the open platform for container-based applications, today announced the acquisition of software-defined networking (SDN) startup SocketPlane. SocketPlane was founded in Q4, 2014 with a vision of delivering Docker-native networking, and it has been an active participant in shaping the initial efforts around Docker’s open API for networking. "The explicit focus of the SocketPlane team within Docker will be on collaborating with the partner community to complete a rich set of networking APIs that addresses the needs of application developers and network and system administrators alike," reports Docker.

Among other things, the fact that this company is being acquired a few short months after launching is evidence of how red hot Docker itself is.

“Networking is a critical part of the stack for distributed applications and has become an increasing area of focus within the Docker partner ecosystem due to the rapid growth in multi-container, multi-host applications,” said Solomon Hykes, chief architect of the Docker Project and founder and CTO of Docker, Inc., in a statement “To sustain the velocity of community advancements in open, modular and secure Docker networking, we felt we needed to support those efforts with a dedicated team. Given the SocketPlane team’s collective experience with virtually every open source SDN effort, we felt they were the right people to carry forward our ‘batteries included, but swappable’ approach to drive a thriving networking ecosystem.” 

SDN efforts for Docker are targeted to provide infrastructure freedom of choice where admins can select which networking profiles are right for an application specific use case. In this manner, networking can be software-defined, and very portable, while limiting vendor lock-in.

As GigaOM reports:

"SocketPlane’s entire six-person staff is joining Docker and will be helping the container-centric startup develop a networking API that makes it possible to string together hundreds to thousands of containers together no matter if the containers “reside in different data centers,” explained Scott Johnston, Docker’s SVP of product."

APIs and other tools that Docker and SocketPlane develop will complement robust orchestration services that Docker announced just a few days ago.  Docker Machine, very notably, lets developers rapidly deploy Docker on popular cloud platforms including Amazon EC2, Digital Ocean, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, RackSpace Cloud and many VMware platforms. A single command can enable Docker for them.

Then there is Docker Swarm. According to Docker's announcement:

"Docker Swarm provides native clustering as well as integrations with third party tools and services. This ensures a uniform developer experience at any scale, as developers build and ship multi-container, multi-host distributed applications, while preserving the operational freedom to choose an infrastructure optimized for the performance and availability of these applications."

Joyent weighed in on the SocketPlane acquisition. “Enhancing Docker’s open API for networking, in a manner that fosters a robust partner ecosystem, is necessary to facilitate broader and accelerated adoption of Docker,” said Bill Fine, vice president of product, Joyent. “The acquisition of SocketPlane shows that the Docker team is serious about doing just that. We are delighted to see Docker add SocketPlane's networking expertise to their team, and we believe that it will help accelerate a productive, community-wide collaboration on this important issue.”

“Cross-host networking is an important requirement for Docker, and is fundamental to the vision for distributed applications,” said Sheng Liang, CEO, Rancher Labs. “We’ve worked closely with Docker and SocketPlane on integrating with RancherOS and Rancher to build a platform for running Docker at scale in production, and are excited to continue this collaboration moving forward.”