Following nine months of development, CenturyLink this week announced the open-source availability of its Docker management platform, Panamax. The platform is designed to ease the development and deployment of any application sitting within a Docker environment.
While Docker might be the next generation of virtual machines, CenturyLink says these systems are still very hard to adopt, and that's where Panamax fits in.
The company touts Panamax as being ideal for even complex Docker architectures, offering developers a single management platform by which to create, share and deploy Docker-containerized applications. The Panamax name is a play on words, referring to the maximum permissible dimensions for ships and shipping containers moving through the relatively narrow Panama Canal, as pictured above.
Docker automates the deployment of applications inside software containers, providing a layer of abstraction and of OS-level on machines running Linux. Because it makes containers portable and sharable, Docker lets developers more easily collaborate on infrastructure, according to CenturyLink, preventing configuration problems when work is uploaded from a developer’s computer to a Web server.
How It Works
The scalability and portability of applications have become more crucial since Docker and Linux containerization have become more popular. Containerization offers a smaller technology footprint than that of x86 virtualization.
"Docker captured my imagination when I realized that I could encapsulate the entire state of my application system and share it with anyone else in the world," said Lucas Carlson, chief innovation officer at CenturyLink, in a statement. "Panamax lets you combine Linux containers like Legos, stitching together the best-of-breed containers built by the dev-ops community, and then deploy them anywhere."
Jay Lyman, senior enterprise software analyst at 451 Research, told us the ultimate goal of Panamax is to be a set of software and tools and integrations that will standardize the way Linux containers and Dockerized applications are managed.
"It will help developers and IT shops interested in using Linux containers or Docker that lack expertise or experience with it," Lyman said. "It may also help those who are more experienced with containers and Docker to pull in additional stakeholders and supporters to drive broader or deeper use."
Panamax works around bundles of Docker containers called templates, pre-configured sets of apps that can communicate with each other. Users can install a Panamax template that includes the application they’re working in and the required database server. The template can then be installed and deployed with the Panamax interface.
Previously, when developers wanted to run multi-container, multi-server apps with Docker, they needed to learn as many as five new technologies (including libswarm, systemd, etcd, ambassador and fleet) as well as Docker-specific best practices.
CenturyLink says that Panamax combines those technologies and best practices into a package that automates the deployment of complex applications. Users drag-and-drop containers and have access to numerous open-source applications.
Versatility Is Key
Panamax can run on laptops, virtual machines, bare metal or any public cloud that supports CoreOS. It is open-source licensed under Apache 2.0. That platform is meant to combine the tools needed to simplify development and deployment of containerized applications.
"While Docker is centered on the packaging of applications, Panamax is centered on the management of these Dockerized and containerized applications," Lyman said.
The announcement of the Panamax platform came within months after Google released Kubernetes, an open-source manager of Docker containers for its Cloud Platform. Unlike Kubernetes, Panamax will work on top of existing Linux container-orchestration systems.
Panamax joins IronFoundry and ElasticLINQ as cloud-related open-source projects developed by CenturyLink.