Portainer: Open-source Docker and Kubernetes management

Portainer Community Edition is an open-source, lightweight service delivery platform for containerized applications. It enables the management of Docker, Swarm, Kubernetes, and ACI environments. It provides a smart GUI and a comprehensive API to manage your orchestrator resources, including containers, images, volumes, networks, and more.

Docker Kubernetes management

The history of Portainer

“I created Portainer, initially for my own needs. Back in 2016 I was operating a Public Cloud provider in Asia, and wanted to offer a Container as a Service solution to market. At the time, that meant Docker. There were no Cloud Provider management UI’s for Docker then, so I created Portainer to act as such. In a way, Portainer enabled a domestic market version of AWS ECS before ECS was popular. However, Portainer quickly took on a life of its own. I open-sourced the UI, which was “discovered” and blogged about, and it took off. In mid-2016, it had 500 downloads, by Xmas, 1 million, and by New Year’s Day, 10 million,” Neil Cresswell, the creator of Portainer, told Help Net Security.

Cresswell quickly shut down their original CaaS business and focused solely on developing Portainer as a product, building it out from there.

Portainer features

The main objective for Portainer now is to enable organizations to offer CaaS platforms internally on any container runtime or orchestrator of their choice. If a business wants to run container-based apps in the easiest way possible, Portainer is the ideal tool.

Supporting Docker and Kubernetes, it abstracts complexity and simplifies the process, making it accessible even to those with only a sysadmin background. Additionally, Portainer provides the necessary controls and protections to ensure that apps run securely on well-configured platforms.

“Portainer is designed for the “everyday admin”, it’s not designed for the expert. It differs from others in that it focuses on making container technology readily accessible. We don’t like technology that “gatekeeps”, so that only the most technical advanced can adopt it, we want everyone to be able to embrace the transformational powers of containerization. We also want Portainer to be your only tool to manage your platform. You shouldn’t be forced to go and self-select a complete toolchain to manage containers; you should be able to have a single tool that handles all vital elements of your platform: provisioning, lifecycle, security, compliance, troubleshooting, etc. That’s Portainer,” Cresswell explained.

Future plans and download

“We are looking to expand further what Portainer does, going deeper into observability, supporting greater scale of deployments, and furthering our work on simplifying Kubernetes operations. We do want to make the underlying technology as irrelevant as we can. We look at AWS ECS as our “gold standard” regarding its power and ease of use, and that is what we want to offer for any deployment, anywhere,” Cresswell added.

Portainer Community Edition is updated regularly, and the developers aim to release an update every few months. It is available for free on GitHub.

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