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Oracle buys StackEngine for Docker container management

Oracle is investing in container management technology for Docker through an acquisition of cloud computing startup StackEngine, which provides a platform for managing Docker applications.

On Dec. 18, Oracle signed an agreement to acquire startup company StackEngine to help broaden its Oracle Public Cloud operations. StackEngine is a year-old cloud computing vendor based in Austin, Texas, that provides a container management platform for configuring, deploying and managing applications based on the increasingly popular Docker open source technology.

Docker automates the development and delivery of applications in software containers that are isolated from one another on a server, providing a virtualized environment that runs on a shared operating system. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM -- three of Oracle's biggest cloud rivals -- are all business partners of Docker Inc., which created the Docker technology and offers commercial tools and services based on it.

Oracle isn't a newcomer to Docker, either. It has been possible to run Docker on Oracle Linux since 2013, and the company said last summer that it planned to add Docker support to Oracle Solaris Zones, the container platform in its Solaris operating system. Oracle OpenStack was the first version of the OpenStack cloud computing environment to be fully packaged as Docker instances. The Oracle Cloud Platform also includes Docker container services through a cloud service announced in October at Oracle OpenWorld 2015.

StackEngine's core product is the StackEngine Container Application Center, which is a DevOps platform for managing deployments of Docker applications. The stated goal of the product is to make using Docker less complex and less confusing by providing seamless Docker container management capabilities. StackEngine also offers a native graphical user interface for Docker and supports application logging, monitoring and load balancing across Docker deployments.

StackEngine currently has five employees, all of whom will be joining Oracle, according to a brief announcement on Oracle's website. One of the three co-founders of the company, Robert Gordon, has a past connection with Oracle: Gordon, StackEngine's chief architect, was employed by Oracle as a principal software engineer for nine months in 2010.

Oracle hasn't come forward with the reasons behind its decision to buy StackEngine, nor has it released information on the price of the acquisition. However, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Oracle issued over $1.3 million worth of its common stock to cover stock options and equity awards for the five StackEngine employees.

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