London’s Orchard and Fig join Docker

San Francisco firm Docker has acquired London-based Orchard Labs and its orchestration tool Fig

Docker, the San Francisco firm that commercially supports the open-source project Docker, has acquired London-based startup Orchard Labs, including its flagship orchestration tool Fig. The acquisition of the Docker hosting service company is aimed at extending the open-source program’s reach within enterprises.

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Docker is an open-source program that enables a Linux application and its dependencies to be packaged as a container. It is Linux OS-agnostic, which means even Mac and Windows users are able to run Docker by installing a small Linux kernel on their infrastructure.

Orchard is one of the early Docker community members and has created services on the Docker platform, including a hosted Docker service and Fig, an application composition and orchestration tool.  

The acquisition of Orchard’s technologies is aimed at extending Docker’s capabilities for developers and lending momentum to Docker’s mission of delivering an open platform to build, ship, and run distributed applications.

Docker competes with proprietary application containers such as the VMware vApp and infrastructure abstraction tools such as Chef.

Docker can package an application and its dependencies in a virtual container that can run on any Linux server. This enables flexibility and portability on where the application can run – on premises, public cloud, private cloud or bare metal, according to analysts at 451 Research.

“Our goal is to provide the best tools and experiences for developers creating web-scale applications that move seamlessly between bare metal, virtualised, and cloud environments,” said Ben Golub, Docker chief executive.  “Orchard really stood out to us with their vision of what developers need and their delivery of well-designed services and products.”

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Orchard’s Fig enables developers to easily compose and manage a multi-container Docker application. After defining the application’s containers and their dependencies in a simple configuration file, the developer can – with a single command – automatically start all the components of the application, including containers, network connections and storage dependencies.  

This eliminates the overhead and inevitable mistakes inherent in retyping multiple complex terminal commands or creating rigid, unmaintainable custom scripts, according to Docker.

London-based Orchard co-founders Ben Firshman and Aanand Prasad will lead developer environment initiatives at Docker while continuing to maintain Fig.

Firshman and Prasad will continue to reside in London where, in addition to their product leadership work, they will help to expand Docker’s European footprint.

The duo will also lead a new developer experience group within Docker that will improve Mac and Windows support, providing more tutorials, integrate with other popular developer tools and report problems, said Docker creator Solomon Hykes on the company blog.

“The expertise and energy in London’s tech scene is something we couldn’t afford to leave, and we hope Docker is going to become an important part of that,” Firshman and Prasad said.

As a result of the acquisition, Docker will also open its first European office in London and will provide Orchard’s existing customers with a smooth transition programme.

Docker project has had backing from tech giants including Google. In June, Google declared support for Docker when it launched its Kubernetes project. Google launched several initiatives tied to Docker last month, including support for its images in Google App Engine and the introduction of open-source container manager Kubernetes on GitHub.

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