Fortune | September 6, 2016

Here’s Why This Software Scuffle Should Matter to Non-Techies

Does one company control too much of how software containers are managed?

There’s been a battle brewing in the world of software development concerning how companies build and update the applications they use internally and, perhaps more importantly, those they use to serve outside customers. It directly involves Docker, which is becoming the standard way for packing up the pieces of these applications in a way that makes them easier to run and update quickly.

That speed-and-ease is increasingly important now as even old-school companies have to build, test, and tweak new software features faster to serve corporate customers. Thus, it’s also the sort of battle that chief information officers and others in the C-Level suite need to watch.

The use of containers greatly helps in that regard because they make more efficient use of computing resources, stretching them even further than virtualization, which lets a single server run multiple operating systems and applications. Containers extend hardware even further because that server can now run many containers on the same operating system on that server.

Translated that means a company can can pack more applications onto one server than before. Another big perk: Containers can be moved around from one set of servers to another as needed.

Containers also are the vehicle for running “microservices”—basically modular pieces of software that when assembled provide major software services.

Here’s the issue that has bubbled up among tech industry professionals over the past few weeks. Docker Inc. has been the keeper of the core Docker code, but it’s also been adding new management and orchestration features atop that core. Meanwhile, a raft of other companies including CoreOS, Mesosphere, Joyent, Hashicorp, Apprenda, and others are building their own management and orchestration tools. Several of these back Kubernetes, a way of managing Docker containers pushed by Google. All of these tools promise to make it easier to manage and deploy many Docker containers quickly, a task that gets confusing fast…