[Beowulf] Docker vs KVM paper by IBM

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Wed Jan 28 09:46:25 PST 2015

On 1/28/15, 12:30 PM, Jason Riedy wrote:
> And Andrew Holway writes:
>> Docker was encouraging us to do very sloppy work.
> Define "us."  My perspective is that Docker-ish things can let
> system staff focus on the hardware and low-level interfaces
> maintained exactly the way you intend.  Then "application
> consultants," if you have those on staff, can help areas develop
> their images in whatever way they need.
> And grad students can just throw any old crud together at the last
> moment, use it, and not muck things up for people who spend (far
> too much) time getting things set up just right (only to need
> something else for the next project).
> The sloppy part of the problem can be addressed sloppily and the
> fussy part can be addressed carefully when appropriate.

+1  ... beat me to the punch ...

The same arguments made by Andrew/Gavin could be made against VMs, and 
other things.  And those arguments are just as wrong there as they are 

Docker has a concept and an implementation.  Complain about the 
implementation if you must, but the concept has been bought into by the 
major distro vendors and it will be interesting to see what emerges.  
Note also that the implementation of other things (like, I dunno, SR-IOV 
and kvm pass through?) have also been "controversial" in the past (and 
may still be for all I know, though I've not heard much recently), as 
they poke through the "guaranteed" isolation of a VM.

Docker implementation will get better and more secure over time, and I 
suspect that the time scale for the major/minor bits getting better will 
be measurable in months.  Docker is a concept as well, and others may 
implement different versions of the concept.  I think there is at least 
one other from CoreOS folks (Rocket?).

What I'd like to see is a real API, and this is where things like what 
the Joyent team did with SmartOS are IMO a good base to work with.   
Maybe not perfect (and it makes some assumptions about location of 
storage I don't like), but overall it is a very good concept and not 
hard to work with.  To plug them a bit, they've recently extended their 
bits to enable running Docker containers 
.  This is in part leveraging their SmartOS internals, but also, their 
recent ability to run Linux bits "natively" in containers on SmartOS 
(http://www.slideshare.net/bcantrill/illumos-lx).  If only ... 
infiniband were supported (hint hint two remaining IB vendors ... big 
hint hint).

Most of the people I've spoken to get why Docker is a good thing. Some 
are waiting for it to mature, some are not.  A few die hards may deride 
it.  Their choice.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics, Inc.
e: landman at scalableinformatics.com
w: http://scalableinformatics.com
t: @scalableinfo
p: +1 734 786 8423 x121
c: +1 734 612 4615

More information about the Beowulf mailing list