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Private Docker repositories add to Google containers push

Private Docker repositories are available through the Google Container Registry -- a move to help secure and deploy private container images.

Google has taken a small, but important step forward in the maturation of its Docker service, as it tries to stand out to IT pros eager to embrace the container technology.

Google is offering private Docker repositories through its Google Container Registry. Cloud vendors of all sizes added Docker support last year, but Google -- itself built on containers -- has been one of the most eager to embrace the ecosystem with its Google Container Engine and open source Kubernetes orchestration project.

The new registry service allows customers to host and store private images in Google Cloud Storage, with access granted only to project members, Google said. The images also are encrypted before being written to disk.

Docker has great public repositories, but for vendors offering a Docker container service, private repositories make sense for software developers wanting to keep some things internal, said Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst for Forrester Research Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass.

"This is one area where Google can keep shaking up the industry by getting out a little bit ahead of everyone else," Bartoletti said.

Potential users will need to be billable Google Cloud Platform customers with Docker and Google Cloud SDK installed. The feature is in beta with no extra cost, but it's unclear if that will change when it moves to general availability.

This is one area where Google can keep shaking up the industry by getting out a little bit ahead of everyone else.
Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass.

The technology around the Docker project is terrific, but it still needs reliable management capabilities around clustering, security, advanced storage and private repositories, Bartoletti said.

"What's not novel is the concept of private repositories," Bartoletti said. “What's new is Google is offering it attached to other services so you don't have to do any work to set it up."

Online retailer zulily Inc., based in Seattle, began building its entire infrastructure around Docker deployments several months ago, but ran into a problem with images it didn't want to share, said Steve Reed, zulily principal engineer.

The company started using its own private registry, but had issues with certificate configuration and how to back up data stored there. There were also pain points from the differing host names associated with the internal registry and Kubernetes.

"When I heard about the container registry from Google, that basically solved almost all of the problems we were having," Reed said.

What Docker and Google containers mean for the cloud future

Workiva, an Ames, Iowa-based financial reporting software developer, sees Docker as the future of cloud deployments, helping to speed up and improve management of the development process, said Dave Tucker, senior director of platform development.

The company is still sorting through the rapidly improving offerings from Google and Amazon, but the container registry is an interesting development because it could allow the company to move off the Docker public registry, which he claims lacks security.

"That's the stuff that's really appealing -- Container Engine and the ability to manage containers," Tucker said. "It's encouraging because they're making a lot of progress quickly."

The addition is another step forward for Google, which is clearly in the container camp, said David Linthicum, senior vice president of Cloud Technology Partners Inc., a consulting firm based in Boston.

"People aren't going to put things into production on Google unless there's some privacy maintained and assurances people outside your organizations can't get in and mess with your workloads," Linthicum said.

Google continues to improve its Docker services as it sees the technology as a potential differentiator in public cloud, Linthicum said, adding that he expects this to be the first of many container announcements this year.

"Google seems to be on everybody's list in terms of Docker technology," Linthicum said. "It's a great opportunity for them and it's an easy way to whittle away at the existing market and gain more and more share."

But while the registry is a differentiator for now, it won't take long for Amazon to copy the plan and Google will need to keep pushing its services forward, Bartoletti said.

"Google is really trying to go after this specific slice of software developers that are hungry for more services around Docker and want it to be easier and easier," Bartoletti said.

Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at [email protected].

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