Why? Because containers could have been a direct rival to VMware's virtual machines. For VMware to bring Docker into its tent means that the company believes it's better to join them than to fight them.
Paul Strong, a VMware VP, put it in a more customer-friendly way in a blog posting: "Our joint collaborations with Docker, Google and Pivotal are all about enabling our customers to get the benefits of containers, whilst taking advantage of the unique capabilities of VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center approach. All without having to change the way they do things — Containers without Compromise."
VMware's objective is to "enable enterprises to leverage their existing VMware infrastructure as a unified, scalable and secure platform for running and managing enterprise applications whether in a container or a virtual machine or a container within a virtual machine in a platform as a service." In other words, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
VMware will be working with its new partners to "enable enterprises to run and manage their containerized applications on their VMware infrastructure or on VMware vCloud Air hybrid service."
This isn't a half-hearted effort, VMware claims that it "will bring to bear its compute, management, storage, networking and security capabilities to container environments."
What Docker gets out of the deal, besides yet another IT powerhouse partner, said Scott Johnston, Docker's senior VP of business development, is more customers. "You’ll start to see VMware introducing Docker to its users through its marketing and sales channels."
Specifically, VMware and Docker will be collaborating on enabling Docker Engine on VMware work-flows from build to deploy for VMware vSphere to VMware vCloud Air. In addition, they will be collaborating on Docker-related open-source projects libswarm, libcontainer, and libchan.
Google and VMware will also be working with Google's Kubernetes. This is Google's open source container cluster manager. With it administrators can schedule multiple container replicas across virtual machines instances. VMware is working on bringing Kubernetes to VMware vSphere to make it easy for enterprises get started with container management.
Finally, all the partners are collaborating on enhancing Docker's libcontainer project with capabilities from Warden. This is a Linux Container technology originally developed at VMware for Cloud Foundry. It provides a simple API for managing containers.
In a statement, VMware's CTP Ben Fathi, said, "With Docker, Google and Pivotal, we will simplify the way enterprises develop, run and manage all application types on a common platform at scale. In this way, Docker containers and virtual machines will provide an IT environment without compromise. Together, we will optimize containers for the enterprise — enabling that they run effectively in software-defined datacenter environments."
Ready or not, Linux server administrator, Microsoft datacenter manager, or VMware cloud designer, Docker is now part of your toolkit. You'd better get cracking on it now. With this move, there really are no major virtlualization companies left that don't have some kind of partnership with Docker in place.