Rackspace container-as-a-service delivers Docker to the masses

The new Rackspace container service Carina uses native Docker tooling and bare-metal to speed up and help manage deployments.

Rackspace is the latest to get into the container-as-a-service space with a technology to simplify and speed deployments.

Carina by Rackspace is a container service available in beta for free on the Rackspace Public Cloud. It allows users to provision Docker Swarm clusters with native Docker APIs and create and deploy containerized applications. Rackspace manages the underlying infrastructure and offers the service on bare-metal.

O'Reilly Media, Inc., in Sebastopol, Calif., was an early adopter of Carina. The tech-education publishing and conference-hosting company focuses on tech and wanted to use containers for its authors.

O'Reilly looked at other container services, but the biggest draw to Carina was the simplicity of getting started, said Andrew Odewahn, CTO at O'Reilly Media. The use of the Docker API helps, as does the fact that a lot of the scalability and other features are baked into the service, he added.

"I would like to enable our authors and our talent to be able to deliver the sort of interactive learning products [we produce] easily and quickly," Odewahn said. "I don't want to maintain a bunch of infrastructure to do that or use something that requires a lot of expertise to get it running."

Enterprises increasingly look to cloud service providers to run test and development environments, so being able to quickly stand up instances has a number of benefits to help get resources more quickly and save money, said Colm Keegan, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., a consultancy firm in Milford, Mass.

Containers have become a key part of that with developers who want to more quickly push out applications, but there are still concerns from an operational standpoint about management, security and isolation, Keegan said. The Rackspace container-as-a-service offering attempts to answer some of those issues by using some of the existing tools already being used to manage containers and by reducing the complexity around managing containers.

"Rackspace as a service provider is kind of enabling this other area that is becoming a bigger cloud use case, which is test and dev, while also providing for the ability to use containers to build and launch apps quickly," Keegan said.

The strategy around Carina goes back to Rackspace's "fanatical support" philosophy by putting the focus on the upstream open source project at the product level rather than differentiating on features or APIs, said Donnie Berkholz, research director at 451 Research, LLC in New York.

"This keeps the barrier to entry low for new users, which is quite important to getting developer traction," Berkholz said.

 Bare-metal and containers in one service

Rackspace's use of bare-metal is also interesting, as it reduces some of the overhead from a virtual wrapper that slows down the speed to deploy and reduces the number of containers that can be run on a server, Keegan said.

Using bare-metal through Carina gives users the ability to create and deploy a cluster of containerized applications more than six times faster than doing it themselves, according to Rackspace.

Running on bare-metal isn't new to containers. In fact, it's been seen as one of the biggest potentials for the technology because it can reduce lag time from hypervisors. A number of cloud providers offer bare-metal servers, including Joyent, CenturyLink, Internap and SoftLayer, but the use of bare-metal specifically in container-as-a-service offerings appears to be more limited.

Rackspace intends to eventually incorporate a paid version of Carina, but timelines and pricing are not yet available.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected].

Next Steps

Microsoft unveils new container service for Docker

Three apps that are an ideal fit for Docker containers

A closer look at the Rackspace managed cloud

Dig Deeper on Open source cloud computing