The Shortlist of Docker Hosting


Reading Time: 8 minutes

Note that this post has been updated as of October 20, 2016.

We all know that Docker is simple to get up and running on our local machines. But seamlessly transitioning our honed application stacks from development to production was a piece of the puzzle lacking until the past six to twelve months.

Now there are so many specialized and optimized Docker hosting services available, it’s high time for a review to see what’s on offer.

One of the complexities with comparing Docker hosting options is that many are offering management and orchestration tools on top of actual hosting providers. Not all make it clear which provider they use, when, or where, and this may or may not be an important issue to you. For this reason, I haven’t included services such as Deis Workflow, Docker Cloud, or ContainerShip as they don’t claim to be or offer integrated hosting services.

While I will include services that host elsewhere, these costs are included in the price.

Of course, it’s possible to just install Docker on a Linux-based VM on any hosting provider, and I could produce pages of profiles of “standard” hosting companies. Instead, I’ve tried to focus on services that offer something else on top of simple hosting to make your Docker experience smoother and enhanced.

Docker Machine

For many hosting providers, the easiest way to deploy and manage your containers is via Docker Machine drivers. Unless these hosts offer anything extra on top of the driver, I won’t list them separately. Currently these include:

More are likely to follow soon, and you may be able to use the generic driver for other hosts.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS is the biggest cloud-hosting service on the planet and offers support for Docker across most of its standard EC2 machines.

AWS then offers the EC2 container service (ECS) that exposes a set of API calls for managing containers installed across your EC2 instances. ECS isn’t charged separately, but it sits on top of any other AWS resources your containers are using. This means that containers have access to the wide variety of services that AWS offers, including storage and scaling.

Digital Ocean

Docker container support on Digital Ocean is simple, reflecting the way the company generally works. Sign in to your account and create a new Droplet based on the Docker application.


This will create a VM running Docker on top of Ubuntu to use as usual.


Rackspace offers a Docker Machine driver, but it also has a container hosting service. Carina is still in public beta and lets you create Docker Swarm-like clusters. It also enables you to manage your containers from development to production by using mostly standard Docker commands. For example:

carina create chriscluster --wait --nodes=3 --autoscale

There is also a web console available for managing your containers and applications. provides CLI tools, web interface, persistent storage between container launches, and statistics. You construct application stacks through a JSON file, and thanks to the underlying Mesos integration, Sloppy allows you to set machine specifications. For example:

  "project": "chrisexample",
  "services": [
      "id": "frontend",
      "apps": [
          "id": "node",
          "domain": {
            "type": "HTTP",
            "uri": ""
          "mem": 1024,
          "image": "chrischinchilla/frontend",
          "instances": 1,
          "port_mappings": [
              "container_port": 5000
          "env": {
            "LCB_DATABASE_URI": "mongodb://mongodb.backend.chrisexample/chrisexample"
          "dependencies": [
      "id": "backend",
      "apps": [
          "id": "mongodb",
          "mem": 512,
          "image": "mongo",
          "instances": 1,
          "port_mappings": [
              "container_port": 27017

Giant Swarm

This is a new startup that likes to keep it simple and focus on providing a solid product and support. Giant Swarm doesn’t use VMs and will only deploy your containers and services to private AWS machines and their own bare metal services.

Exact pricing is a little unclear, and the service is invite-only right now, but they are open about their infrastructure, with several custom components available on GitHub. Setup is via a command line tool, with applications defined by a JSON file that resembles a Docker Compose file. For example:

  "name": "chris-app",
  "components": {
    "front-end": {
      "image": "",
      "ports": 8000,
      "domains": {
        "8000": ""
      "links": [
        {"component": "redis", "target_port": 6379}
    "redis": {
      "image": "redis:2.6",
      "ports": 6379

Images can be from the Docker Hub, as well as custom images from your account on the Giant Swarm registry.

Start your application with a simple command that can pass a variety of parameters to the JSON file.

swarm up

An API is available for more fine-grained control of your services, and co-workers can be organized into teams to allow for collaboration.

Google Compute Engine (GCE)

Kubernetes underpins Google’s container hosting and management service, their own open-source project that powers many large container-based infrastructures. The containers sit on top of Google’s own hosting service, one of the most reliable cloud-hosting services available. GCE provides a container registry and (in beta) a build service that will create Docker images from code hosted in Google’s Cloud.


Microsoft Azure

While AWS looms over all other cloud providers, Azure is actually the second most popular. Backed by a large company, it’s not going anywhere any time soon and is your best source of Windows-based VMs. Besides a Docker Machine driver, pre-built VM extensions are also available.

Azure is an official Docker trusted registry partner, either through their own VM image or by installing yourself.


Most of Heroku’s workflow is triggered by git push commands. These are still possible with a Docker setup, but an alternative is available via a Docker Compose plugin for pushing your containerized applications straight to the service. Heroku also maintains Docker images for most of the languages it supports.


Quay offers container hosting tightly integrated with the existing Docker toolset. You log in to Quay’s registry via the Docker command and manage containers in your account.

docker login

Quay will work with many common developer tools to allow for fully automated workflows, has CLI and web tools available for managing your container deployments, as well as logging and collaboration tools.

If you need Kubernetes for managing and orchestrating your containers, then Quay has a partner service called Tectonic. Quay and Tectonic are built by the CoreOS team, so you can also use them to host and manage rkt containers. In fact, Tectonic only works with rkt containers, but I thought I would sneak a mention in.


Hyper has a simple proposition: providing a local command line abstraction to running Docker containers on Hyper’s hosting (provider and location is unspecified). The tool is easy to use, but the setup steps are slightly misleading.

If you try following the instructions on the homepage, you’ll quickly find that you actually need to sign up and get an authentication token first. This involves giving Hyper your credit card details even if all you’re intending to do is test the platform. Once you run hyper config and these steps are complete, then the process is straightforward.

Configuring Hyper

In this first image, I pull the NGINX image and then check that it has been pulled with the images.

Pulling images and checking they exist

Using the command line tool, you can start and link services and attach data volumes and IP addresses to them. Most of Hyper’s commands are wrappers around familiar Docker commands, giving you access to a solid hosting provider. If you know Docker, you will know how to use Hyper.


With containers hosted on Azure infrastructure, Dokkur manages your containers from an application level, allowing you to select your applications from GitHub or create a new application. As far as I can tell from their documentation, it uses containers for separating your applications into code, database, and persistent storage, but there is no direct Docker support or control.

Triton from Joyent

Triton offers a comprehensive suite of services for creating, running, and orchestrating containers across cloud and bare metal servers. I mentioned in the introduction that I wouldn’t include services that just orchestrated hosting options, but Triton also offers its own hosting solution (the Triton cloud), so I will focus on that.

With a few clicks, Triton gives you a comprehensive graphical interface to launch and manage images and containers from the Docker Hub or your own image repositories. You can create overlay networks, add persistent storage, and add debug jobs. With API access to all functionality, a CLI tool, and deep integration with Docker, HashiCorp Terraform, and other tools from Joyent, Triton is a power user’s dream.

IBM Bluemix

By default, Bluemix doesn’t include container images on the Docker Hub. This is confusing because initially you only have access to five ‘certified’ containers. You can copy public Docker images into your Bluemix account, but this involves first installing a series of CLI tools and navigating Bluemix’s confusing documentation.

I struggled to get this to work, so instead I experimented with one of IBM’s own containers to see what’s possible. This also caused an ‘unknown error’. If you can get Bluemix to work, then it has powerful integration options available with IBM’s IoT and machine learning offerings, but it’s not for the inexperienced.


Another solution aimed squarely at enterprise customers, Red Hat’s Openshift can be self-installed or in Red Hat’s cloud. You can’t trial or experiment with Openshift without contacting a sales representative, so I couldn’t try the service, but it offers a lot of support and infrastructure features that will appeal to high-scale enterprise users.

So if it’s time to move on from playing with Docker in development to integrating it with production, these are the hosting services to check out. Got something to add to the list? Let me know in the comments.

PS: If you liked this article you can also download it as an eBook PDF here: The Shortlist of Docker Hosting

Subscribe via Email

Over 60,000 people from companies like Netflix, Apple, Spotify and O'Reilly are reading our articles.
Subscribe to receive a weekly newsletter with articles around Continuous Integration, Docker, and software development best practices.

We promise that we won't spam you. You can unsubscribe any time.

Join the Discussion

Leave us some comments on what you think about this topic or if you like to add something.

  • I really can’t say enough good things about Cloud 66. I was sad to not see them on this list, though I understand that you must keep a shortlist short. :)

    • Chris Ward

      Hmm, I have heard of them, but they didn’t come up during research (Tell them to improve their SEO!)

      Do they bolt on top of exisiting hosting or include it in price? In which case, they might fall under my intro paragraphs.

      • You are right. They bolt on top of other cloud providers, so the pricing isn’t all integrated.

        Anyway, this was a really good list, so thanks, Chris!

        • Chris Ward

          Thanks :)

  • flymedia technology

    This blog is very nice, Thank for sharing. If you are find best web services like web design, web development, SEO and more etc. so please visit our website:-

  • Gnep Zhao

    Hi Chris, I just want you to know that we just release the beta of our secure container cloud Hyper_ ( week ago. Welcome to sign up the beta and I will let you in ASAP!

    • Chris Ward

      OK< just signed up :)

  • 看看!

  • Jakub Milkiewicz

    what about dchq and rancher ?

    • Chris Ward

      Hmm, neither of those came up in my research, but I was familiar with RancherOS. Maybe a part 2!

  • Don’t forget about Triton too, from Joyent:

    • Chris Ward

      Thanks! Some of these Docker hosting companies need to do some SEO work, I had heard of Joyent, but they didn’t come up when researching. :/

      They also don’t seem to want to tell you their pricing :(

  • Jason Park

    I tried few options and ended up using

    • Chris Ward

      Indeed @hyunjo_on:disqus but see my opening comments, the Docker cloud is not hosting, rather management on top of hosting.

  • Diego Alacerna is inexpensive if you need large deployments on both the west and the east coast

  • Lydie Khashina

    I suggest you trying where you can deploy and host your apps written on different languages. Btw it supports ALL databases, even SQLite (you won’t need to migrate to Postgres).

    • Please don’t suggest SQLite as a database. That really only pushes greenhorns down trouble road. No-one should use use SQLite as a production database (unless you have to, e.g. on embedded devices). Just my two cents, sorry!

      • Greg

        SQLite has its uses. No need to overly generalize.

  • now offers YAML as alternative to JSON for specifying their configuration. Fits better with Docker and Compose, and is much more concise! See, for example,

  • also provides a driver for docker machine.

  • Austin Goudge

    Many thanks for this. Note that unfortunately Rackspace have discontinued their Carina offering, which was confirmed to me just now by our RS account manager. has been taken down. He also confirmed that customers are rolling their own Docker environments, but this is not officially supported by them.

    • Chris Ward

      Thanks! This list changes all the time. I think as many have come as gone :/

  • Ashish Garg
    Check this video for and integration for docker.

    • Chris Ward


  • docmatt

    Hi, did you test Hidora? . They host Docker in Switzerland. Did you test it? They are based on Jelastic platform.

    • Chris Ward

      Nope, haven’t heard of it. Which means they need to do some work on SEO . marketing. But as you can see from the comments here, options come and go frequently. I will take a look :)

  • Pingback: Web Hosting Docker – My Blog()

  • Pingback: The Shortlist of Docker Hosting – Full-Stack Feed()

  • Danny Hadley

    thanks for this! I’ve also been watching “now” ( by pretty closely and seems promising

    • Chris Ward

      Yes! I am attending their user day in a few weeks, so will likely write something about them soon :)

  • Junior Vidotti

    Awful service from DigitalOcean! I cannot send e-mail from inside the VM because they blocked this service. Even after I send a message to support they mantained the restriction. Also, I’ve installed a DigitalOcean Agent to monitor my VM resources and one day after my machine was locked because of “awkward network activity”…

  • Roberto Gorjão

    You might want to try out and add DreamCompute, from Dreamhost, to the list. They use OpenStack as their cloud platform and are quite performant.

  • Greg Reed

    Still unsure about how docker hosting works? Our Application Cloud Orchestration has made container application hosting easy-to-use and scalable so that everyone can benefit from it! Check it out at

  • Alexander Mattoni

    You should check out as well. They build private clouds with a custom container orchestrator on top that fully supports Docker.

  • Pingback: The Shortlist of Docker Hosting – Development 5.0()

  • Cyberience

    Nice Write up. I wonder if anyone give give some guidance, with the amount of services available, which would be the easiest or idea to do the following:
    Script based Dynamic Docker Hosting.
    Use Case:
    1: Docker image is Submitted to Docker Repo
    2: Script to host the Image/w with 2 shared folders (Get IP addresses)
    3: Runs until it Stops or terminated (Maybe running 1 to 1000)
    4: Gather the data files from the host to deliver somewhere.

    Some of the providers require manual click and log in to mount a docker image into the ecosystem. like AWS, but we need to script it. loading up a few Docker images within a VM is not workable either. so they would need to be launched within the cloud environment as individual instances.

  • Pingback: Visualize logs of existing system using Logstash, ES and Google Chart – RITVNBlog()