What is the difference between Mirantis Container Runtime and Docker CE?
It can be hard to untangle the differences between container tools—especially if you’re new to the world of containerization.
To understand the difference between Mirantis Container Runtime and Docker Community Edition (CE), it’s helpful to take a step back and briefly review the history of containers.
A brief history of containers
While Linux containers existed before the debut of Docker in 2013, the technology quickly became synonymous with the Docker name. This was the name of both Docker Engine, the software that built and ran containers, and Docker, Inc., the company that produced the software.
Today, it’s still common to hear people refer to “Docker containers,” when the speaker really means “Linux containers” or “Windows containers” or simply “containers.” But the core concept of isolating processes by kernel namespace isn’t unique to Docker. Today, software from a variety of different organizations uses Open Container Initiative (OCI) specifications–vendor-neutral standards driven both by Docker, Inc. and the wider container community.
In 2017, as containers gained popularity, Docker, Inc. took two steps that are important for understanding the contemporary container landscape:
They released an enterprise version of Docker Engine called Docker Engine - Enterprise, along with a broader suite of enterprise offerings such as a private container registry and universal control plane
They spun out many components of Docker Engine into an open source framework called Moby
Moby was designed to be a collection of open source components—such as build engines, low-level runtimes, a client API, and more—that would sit upstream of Docker Engine, Docker Engine - Enterprise, and other container technologies.
In 2019, Docker, Inc. decided to focus on developer-facing tools, and Mirantis acquired the enterprise-focused segment of the company. The tool formerly known as Docker Engine - Enterprise became Mirantis Container Runtime.
Mirantis Container Runtime vs Docker CE
Mirantis Container Runtime and Docker CE are both projects downstream of Moby. Both use the Docker API. The teams behind both projects contribute to Moby, and changes in Moby will usually be reflected in each.
The major differences between Mirantis Container Runtime and Docker CE lie in security, support, and ease-of-use on Windows Server:
Security: As an enterprise-focused platform, Mirantis Container Runtime includes FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic modules, enabling teams to run sensitive workloads.
Support: Mirantis provides enterprise support for Mirantis Container Runtime, including SLAs up to 99.99%.
Windows Server: Mirantis Container Runtime runs and builds Windows containers natively. Docker CE is difficult to use on Windows Server at present, missing components like Compose, and automation for important configuration like service registration and firewall rules.
What about Swarm?
Swarm orchestration is provided by SwarmKit, a component of Moby. SwarmKit is maintained by Moby contributors, including the Mirantis team, and is part of both Mirantis Container Runtime and Docker CE.
Mirantis Container Runtime is capable of enterprise-supported Swarm orchestration, and Mirantis also offers an enterprise orchestration platform, Mirantis Kubernetes Engine, which supports Swarm orchestration either alongside Kubernetes or in place of it.