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Docker MTA program helps enterprises target IBM Cloud

IBM joined the Docker MTA program to make it easier for enterprises to modernize their existing applications by using containers to move them to the IBM Cloud.

With digital transformation in mind, IBM recently beefed up its relationship with Docker to not only containerize and bring existing applications to the cloud but to make them smarter.

Both Docker and IBM have been lining up partnerships to gain an advantage in the lucrative application modernization market.

The goal of the expanded relationship is to make it easier for enterprises to modernize their existing applications. To accomplish this, Big Blue is combining IBM Cloud with Docker Enterprise Edition and other IBM software and services, said Jason McGee, vice president and CTO of IBM Cloud Platform, in a blog post recently.

"As we continue to build on our partnership with Docker, IBM's ultimate goal is to help our clients modernize and extend their existing applications by moving them to the cloud as easily as possible," McGee  told TechTarget. "That's why this work is focused on helping developers quickly convert existing workloads into containers, giving them portability across different systems and cloud platforms. This also enables them to take advantage of the most valuable services the cloud has to offer, such as Watson, machine learning and blockchain, to enhance their applications with new capabilities and experiences."

Three main points

McGee said the expanded IBM-Docker partnership is focused on three main points: using Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) to containerize workloads and run them on IBM Cloud; bringing IBM into the Docker Modernize Traditional Applications (MTA) program; and making certified IBM software available in the Docker Store.

IBM's alliance with Docker is the latest in this surge in activities among cloud, platform and infrastructure providers to establish well-formed container-orchestration strategies as part of their hybrid cloud offerings.
Charlotte Dunlapanalyst, GlobalData

"All the major ISVs are putting emphasis on the cloud and with IBM Cloud, one of their differentiators is not just that they have business-critical cloud, but this idea that there's a way to make traditional applications smarter without having to change the core application itself," said David Messina, chief marketing officer at Docker. "It's very compelling to IBM enterprises that are looking at digital transformation and wondering where to start and thinking they have to throw the baby out with the bath water."

Instead, the model that Docker and IBM are presenting offers a clear, deterministic path where enterprises can make "stepwise improvements" without having to radically change their legacy applications, he said.

IBM Cloud services

With Docker EE for IBM Cloud, developers can migrate applications to the IBM Cloud and integrate them with IBM services such as the Watson artificial intelligence services.

In addition to the Watson AI capabilities, IBM offers services such as blockchain, internet of things support, analytics offerings, serverless computing and quantum computing, among others.

"Cloud providers are preparing for battle in their quest to become the cloud of choice," said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst at GlobalData. "They'll accomplish this through key alliances and adoption of leading OSS [open source] technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes. IBM's alliance with Docker is the latest in this surge in activities among cloud, platform and infrastructure providers to establish well-formed container-orchestration strategies as part of their hybrid cloud offerings."

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said he believes that working with Docker is a good example of how IBM actively avoids disruption by embracing disruptive technologies. Indeed, "the company has done just that for the past two decades, beginning with its backing of Linux and continuing through a litany of support for other open source projects and relationships with sometimes counterintuitive partners."

King noted that there is irony in that IBM is working with Docker to "modernize existing applications," because that phrase is used by IBM competitors to ding Big Blue.

"You often see it applied to services and solutions designed to migrate enterprises away from IBM legacy platforms," he said. "In this case, IBM is actively embracing self-disruption by underscoring the value customers can realize from implementing containers and working with Docker to minimize the pain and maximize the value of that process."

The Docker MTA program

Docker and IBM announced their expanded relationship at the DockerCon EU in Copenhagen on Oct. 18. At DockerCon 2017 in Austin, Texas, last April, Docker launched its MTA program to help enterprises modernize legacy applications and move them to the cloud.

"Legacy applications, anchored to on-premises data centers, represent more than 90% of enterprise applications deployed today and on average account for 80% of IT budgets," said Scott Johnston, COO of Docker, in a statement in April.

At the launch of the Docker MTA program, Docker announced partnerships with Avanade, Cisco, HPE and Microsoft. Accenture and Booz Allen Hamilton are also partners. Now Docker has added IBM as an MTA partner.

The Docker MTA program has helped customers like Northern Trust speed up application deployment velocity. Indeed, under the Docker MTA program, Northern Trust's Enterprise Technology team was able to provision applications up to four times faster than before using the program.

"This speed of deployment will directly benefit traditional applications and support our overall adoption of enterprise Agile, allowing us to roll out services to our clients more rapidly," said Scott Murray, CTO of Northern Trust, in a statement.

Meanwhile, McGee said IBM is publishing IBM software in the Docker store, including WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere MQ and the IBM DB2 database.

"This will enable customers to quickly access the software images needed for containerization, and gain confidence in those images through the promises of container certification," he said in his blog post.

Docker support for Kubernetes

In other Docker news, Docker announced it is integrating the Kubernetes container orchestration system into the Docker platform. This means Kubernetes will be an option right alongside Docker's own Swarm container orchestration system. Users will have the choice of using Kubernetes or Swarm.

"Support for Kubernetes in addition to the Docker Enterprise Edition capabilities, including security, flexibility and enterprise-grade capabilities across a variety of clouds, Linux distributions and Windows, should appeal to enterprises seeking to centrally manage container applications and speed ROI," said Jay Lyman, principal analyst at 451 Research, in a statement.

Next Steps

Discover more about Docker and the public cloud

Learn how IBM is on the Docker bandwagon

Docker is key to the IBM container strategy

Dig Deeper on Cloud architecture and application development

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