What Do Docker Containers Mean For Ops? (The Docker Book Review)

Docker hub

Is Docker buzz worrying you?

Years ago I had a guy on my team who had a cool saying for anytime someone would get worked up about something. He would tell them…

Keep your shoes on!

Keeping Your Ops Shoes On

Let’s face it, there’s always going to be something new coming along to change our world and we need to just adapt and learn to roll with the punches.

Docker will not replace virtualization just like VMware has not replaced the need to buy hardware. In fact, if anything, it will just give creative Ops people more opportunities to develop new skills.

Imagine with me for a moment there are not too many projects in the current IT project backlog. Crazy, right? But stick with me. If this were true, then can Ops handle Docker?

Let me add a little more detail. From what I gather – Docker enables PaaS on premise (platform as a service) which means the real changes will be in the application stacks that are currently running on traditional IaaS (infrastructure as a service). This means a lot of work converting apps to PaaS…or not.

Furthermore, coding apps doesn’t really impact Ops, right? Keep your shoes on because here comes the kicker.

I’m going to paraphrase Solomon Hykes, Docker’s Founder & CTO:

traditional virtualization adds complexity…

And to solve this complexity he suggests we replace the hypervisor with Docker and the VM and guest OS with containers. Hmm! The first thing that comes to my Ops mind is – no more VMtools to upgrade and less OS patching!

Who’s going to use Docker first?

I’d say the IT organization already using the DevOps toolchain with: Chef, Vagrant, Jenkins and other configuration management tools will have no problem adding containers because they’re already innovating.

Whereas the IT department still STUCK building servers using a ticket system that passes around tasks manually for provisioning hardware, network, and storage is not likely to containerize anytime soon.

Preparing for Docker Containers

After almost 20 years of IT involvement, I’ve learned to not sit back and wait for the bus to run me over; which is why I’m already learning how Docker will impact my Ops team and system resources.

The Docker Book

I found an amazing book on Amazon for only $7.99 (less than the price of lunch). It’s titled The Docker Book: Containerization is the new virtualization by James Turnbull.

This book is helping me understand how I need to start planning for Docker test and Dev environments, as well as cloud implementations.

I’ve only read a couple of chapters so far but I can say – for what it’s worth – James knows Docker.

The Docker Book covers what Ops managers want to know:

  • Hardware requirements?
  • Configuration and setup?
  • Can I install it on a VM?
  • Does it have to be raw metal?
  • Can it be deployed with Chef or another config tool?
  • How to manage multiple Docker instances?

James also goes deep into setting up Docker containers and images. And how the images can be saved in a private or public Docker hub.


Read more about The Docker Book or Buy it on Amazon

My First Docker Lab

As I was reading through The Docker Book I couldn’t help but to jump ahead and set up the Windows version of the Boot2Docker Tool, which I will cover with step-by-step screenshots of my experience and show you the installation video.

Boot2Docker.exe and Instructions for running the Tool for Windows and OS x can be found here.

Here are some screenshots from my Windows installation of Boot2Docker.

Note: For users without VirtualBox already installed you will be given the option to install VirtualBox during the Boot2Docker setup so you don’t need to have it pre-installed. If you do have VirtualBox already installed you can ignore the checkbox; however, I did get an error when I tried to start up Docker before rebooting my system.

boot2docker tool for windows welcome screenboot2docker select components

boot2docker select aditional tasks boot2docker installation completed

After the installation finishes, you will need to reboot. Once you are running again, click the Boot2Docker Start icon.

boot2docker start icon

A boot script will run that starts the Docker ISO in a VirtualBox VM. Once it’s running it will look like this.

boot2docker start

Here’s my VirtualBox running the Boot2Docker VM.

boot2docker tool in virtualbox

What’s next?

There’s obviously a lot more to learn about Docker but I wanted to give a quick demonstration of the step-by-step process I used for installing the Boot2Docker Tool for Windows. If you want more please buy The Docker Book or check out the Docker website for more documentation.

Docker Training

As I was researching for this post I didn’t find much on how to handle the capacity planning or supporting large Docker deployments. Actually, I recall the same thing back in 2005 with VMware.

If you want training – Docker does provide online training courses and I also noticed PluralSight had video training, as well. The overview of both training options seemed more devoted to a Developer rather than for Ops or infrastructure which means a lot of trial and best efforts ahead.

Recapping what Docker containers mean for Ops

Let’s agree to expect Docker will only continue to grow in popularity which is why I am going to suggest managers, sysadmins, and Ops teams start to do their own Docker testing and labs, ASAP.

As I covered in this post, The Docker Book by James Turnbull is a good place to start learning “how”- as is, Docker’s own website.

Is Docker going to replace virtualization?

No, I don’t think so. But it will be used, especially on new applications getting developed from scratch.

For me, I see this as another great opportunity to grow and learn something new. Or if you’ve had any experience with containers before maybe it’s just the same thing with a new name. Either way – as Andy would say, “it’s not anything to lose your shoes over!”

If you enjoyed this book review then you’ll also enjoy reading my review of Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford.

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