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Docker developers can now build Arm containers on their desktops

Docker and Arm today announced a major brand-new partnership that will see the two companies collaborate in bringing improved assist for the Arm platform to Docker’s tools.

The main concept here is to make it uncomplicated for Docker developers to build their applications for the Arm platform right from their x86 desktops and then deploy them to the cloud (including the Arm-based AWS EC2 A1 instances), edge and IoT devices. Developers will be able to build their containers for Arm just like they do today, without the need for any cross-compilation.

This brand-new capability, which will work for applications written in JavaScript/Node.js, Python, Java, C++, Ruby, .NET core, Go, Rust and PHP, will become available as a tech preview next week, when Docker hosts its annual North American developer conference in San Francisco.

Typically, developers would have to build the containers they want to run on the Arm platform on an arm-based server. With this system, which is the first result of this brand-new partnership, Docker essentially emulates an arm chip on the PC for construction these images.

“Overnight, the 2 million Docker developers that are out there can use the Docker commands they already know and become Arm developers,” Docker EVP of Strategic Alliances David Messina told me. “Docker, just like we’ve done many times over, has simplified and streamlined processes and made them simpler and accessible to developers. And in this case, we’re making x86 developers on their laptops Arm developers overnight.”

Given that cloud-based Arm servers like Amazon’s A1 instances are often significantly cheaper than x86 machines, users can gain some immediate cost benefits by using this brand-new system and running their containers on Arm.

For Docker, this partnership opens up brand-new opportunities, especially in areas where Arm chips are already tough, including edge and IoT scenarios. Arm, similarly, is interested in strengthening its developer ecosystem by making it easier to develop for its platform. The easier it is to build apps for the platform, the more likely developers are to then run them on servers that feature chips from Arm’s partners.

“Arm’s perspective on the infrastructure really spans all the route from the endpoint, all the route through the edge to the cloud data center, because we are one of the few companies that have a presence all the route through that entire route,” Mohamed Awad, Arm’s VP of Marketing, Infrastructure Line of Business, said. “It’s that perspective that drove us to make sure that we engage Docker in a meaningful route and have a meaningful relationship with them. We are seeing compute and the infrastructure sort of transforming itself right now from the old version of centralized compute, general purpose architecture, to a more distributed and more heterogeneous compute system.”

Developers, however, Awad rightly noted, don’t want to have to deal with this complexity, yet they also increasingly need to ensure that their applications run on a wide variety of platforms and that they can move them around as needed. “For us, this is about enabling developers and freeing them from lock-in on any particular venue and allowing them to select the right compute for the right job that is the most efficient for them,” Awad said.

Messina noted that the promise of Docker has long been to remove the dependence of applications from the infrastructure on which they run. Adding Arm assist simply extends this promise to an extra platform. He also stressed that the work on this was driven by the company’s enterprise customers. These are the users who have already set up their systems for cloud-native development with Docker’s tools — at least for their x86 development. Those customers are now looking at developing for their edge devices, too, and that often means developing for Arm-based devices.

Awad and Messina both stressed that developers really don’t have to learn anything brand-new to make this work. All of the usual Docker commands will just work.

Source
TechCrunch
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