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Parallels to adopt Docker as native app format in Cloud Server

Early container enthusiast forced aboard the bandwagon

The little virtualizer that can, Parallels, has been doing containerisation for ages: the company's Virtuozzo software has been running applications in silos that share an underlying operating system since at least 2007, when its predecessor company SWsoft decided to rename itself Parallels. SWsoft got its start in 2001.

Parallels prefers to concentrate on the service provider market, where it thrives because it has a fat library of applications packaged to run in Virtuozzo containers. Service providers like that approach because it makes it easy for them to spin up an app for customers with a minimum of fuss. That Parallels also has lots of lovely billing and account management tools makes it a popular supplier to service providers.

Parallels has made lots of approving noises about Docker, signalling it would bake some of its expertise into Linux containers and lending a hand in the ongoing development of libcontainer.

All of which was doubtless welcome. But Docker has arguably surpassed it in terms of packaged applications: the Docker Hub contains 45,000+ “Dockerized apps”.

Parallels announcement that its Cloud Server will next year gain the ability to run Docker apps natively therefore looks very sensible: Cloud Server will perhaps become more attractive to service providers, who will have less incentive to migrate away from the platform.

But it must be galling to Parallels to see a rival containerisation platform overtake it so swiftly. The company's told The Reg it feels it could whip Hyper-V or ESXi if it wanted to, but likes its niche. Perhaps that position's now possible to see as regrettable lack of ambition.

The company's not being cowardly, however, in its explanation for the decision to adopt Docker. Its new stance is that running Docker inside a hypervisor decreases performance worryingly.

VMware and Microsoft both think otherwise, with VMware especially bullish on Docker inside its environment.

If Parallels can make its criticisms stick, it may yet become the mouse that roared. Rather than prey for Docker. ®

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