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Docker Acquires Tutum

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Docker Inc have announced their acquisition of Tutum, ‘The Docker Platform for Dev and Ops’ that allows users to ‘Build, deploy, and manage your apps across any cloud’. The rationale for the deal is to complement Docker Hub, which takes care of ‘build’ and ‘ship’, with Tutum as the platform for ‘run’.

Tutum has built in support for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Ocean, Microsoft Azure, Packet and SoftLayer. It can also work with a ‘bring your own node’ model on other clouds or a customer’s own hardware by installing a Tutum agent, which works on a variety of recent Linux distros (that have up to date Docker support). The Tutum deployment and management model has many similarities to cloud service provider based container offerings like Amazon’s EC2 Container Service (ECS) or Google Container Engine (GKE), but Docker see consistency across a variety of environments as a differentiator. Tutum founder Borja Burgos said, "It's about giving users choice", whilst Docker enterprise marketing VP David Messina added, “Through the whole life cycle”, suggesting that developers might choose a particular environment for their work whilst operations teams might deploy to production elsewhere.

Tutum is presently in beta, with their website stating, “Once Tutum is production ready, you will automatically move to our free forever Developer plan”. Pricing and service levels for the post beta service haven’t been announced. Docker do however see Tutum as part of their monetization model going forward, adding to their Docker Trusted Registry that can be run on-premise or consumed from the cloud based Docker Hub. Services such as ECS and GKE essentially charge for the underlying virtual machine instances that are used to host containers, with no premium for the management layer itself, so Docker/Tutum must see consistent cross cloud deployment and management as being something that will command a premium from their customers.

Tutum have been working with Docker since June 2013, and launched their service in October 2013, so in many cases they’ve had to develop their own approach to aspects of deployment and management that have subsequently become part of the Docker core or Docker sponsored projects. This has created some functional overlap between Tutum offerings and Docker projects and services. For example both companies offer private registries, which can be expected to converge. Tutum also overlaps with Docker Machine, a project that automates the process of installing Docker on a variety of cloud environments. No plans have yet been announced for how the overlaps will be resolved, but the Tutum team of 11 will be moving to from their offices in Madrid and NYC to Docker’s headquarters in San Francisco to work on closer integration.

Docker was born from the DotCloud platform as a service (PaaS), which was sold to cloudControl last August. This may leave some asking why they’re moving back into the business of runtime platforms. The key difference with Tutum is that the end user chooses and pays for the infrastructure (as a service) rather than Docker Inc having to make an investment in their own infrastructure and take care of scaling and multi tenancy. Docker also see themselves as differentiating against more opinioned PaaS by offering the flexibility to use any language or framework within a container.

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