Sematext has become the latest company to join Docker’s Ecosystem Technology Partner (ETP) program for monitoring, bringing its Elasticsearch-based data analytics platform to the official Docker channel.
To understand where this news fits in, we first need to step back and talk about the Docker partner scene. You probably haven’t heard much about Docker’s efforts to partner with other companies, especially relatively small ones like Sematext. But there’s actually interesting stuff going on on this front, which is significant for users who want to put Docker containers in production.
Docker has a sprawling — you might say unwieldy — partner program. It includes a range of different categories and subcategories, some featuring a couple dozen partner companies and others only one or two.
But probably the most significant Docker partner initiatives are the company’s two Ecosystem Technology Partner, or ETP, programs. The first ETP program, which Docker launched in June 2015, focuses on vendors that offer monitoring solutions for Docker clusters and other distributed applications. The other, announced in December 2015, centers on log management.
Both of these niches are vital for the Docker ecosystem (and, in our view, more important than Docker’s other partner programs, which cover generic categories like consultants and cloud hosts) because containers create fundamentally new challenges for both monitoring and logging.
Here’s why. If your applications run directly within complete server environments with persistent data stores, keeping track of logs and monitoring the applications is easy to do using traditional tools. There’s no shortage of software for managing logs on Windows or Unix-like systems, including in distributed environments, or monitoring app performance on the same platforms.
But when your apps run on ephemeral containers, things get more complicated. Logs are not stored in the containers themselves. You can’t usually run monitoring tools inside the same container as the app it’s monitoring. Data storage and networking are abstracted from your apps. Working within this environment requires a new generation of container-aware monitoring and logging solutions.
These are challenges that Docker itself will not solve with its own code (which makes sense, since Docker is designed to be an app deployment platform, not a monitoring and logging solution, too). Instead, it’s relying on the ecosystem to address logging and monitoring needs. The dual ETP programs provide a way for Docker to engage third parties in building these solutions and offering them to Docker users with official Docker compatibility.
Against this backdrop, Sematext’s signing onto the Docker ETP monitoring program, which it announced on April 26, is significant. The company, which already joined the ETP logging program when it launched in December 2015, is the first partner to belong to both of Docker’s ETP programs.
Sematext says it can now deliver automated, one-stop logging and monitoring alike for Docker containers using the Sematext Docker Agent. The company feeds that data to its data analytics platform, Logsene, and its SPM Performance Monitoring tool, where users can work with it further.
As Docker adoption continues, demand for solutions that automate container monitoring and logging will no doubt remain strong. Sematext will have competitors in this niche. But Docker’s admittance of the company into both of its ETP programs is another sign of the Docker ecosystem’s maturity. It’s also a reflection of how Docker is engaging partners to build out its platform and extend container functionality.