Docker Swarm overview

You are viewing docs for legacy standalone Swarm. These topics describe standalone Docker Swarm. If you use Docker 1.12 or higher, Swarm mode is integrated with Docker Engine. Most users should use integrated Swarm mode — a good place to start is Getting started with swarm mode and Swarm mode CLI commands. Standalone Docker Swarm is not integrated into the Docker Engine API and CLI commands.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Docker Swarm is native clustering for Docker. It turns a pool of Docker hosts into a single, virtual Docker host. Because Docker Swarm serves the standard Docker API, any tool that already communicates with a Docker daemon can use Swarm to transparently scale to multiple hosts. Supported tools include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Dokku
  • Docker Compose
  • Docker Machine
  • Jenkins

And of course, the Docker client itself is also supported.

Like other Docker projects, Docker Swarm follows the “swap, plug, and play” principle. As initial development settles, an API will develop to enable pluggable backends. This means you can swap out the scheduling backend Docker Swarm uses out-of-the-box with a backend you prefer. Swarm’s swappable design provides a smooth out-of-box experience for most use cases, and allows large-scale production deployments to swap for more powerful backends, like Mesos.

Understand Swarm cluster creation

The first step to creating a Swarm cluster on your network is to pull the Docker Swarm image. Then, using Docker, you configure the Swarm manager and all the nodes to run Docker Swarm. This method requires that you:

  • open a TCP port on each node for communication with the Swarm manager
  • install Docker on each node
  • create and manage TLS certificates to secure your cluster

As a starting point, the manual method is best suited for experienced administrators or programmers contributing to Docker Swarm. The alternative is to use docker-machine to install a cluster.

Using Docker Machine, you can quickly install a Docker Swarm on cloud providers or inside your own data center. If you have VirtualBox installed on your local machine, you can quickly build and explore Docker Swarm in your local environment. This method automatically generates a certificate to secure your cluster.

Using Docker Machine is the best method for users getting started with Swarm for the first time. To try the recommended method of getting started, see Get Started with Docker Swarm.

If you are interested manually installing or interested in contributing, see Build a Swarm cluster for production.

Discovery services

To dynamically configure and manage the services in your containers, you use a discovery backend with Docker Swarm. For information on which backends are available, see the Discovery service documentation.

Advanced Scheduling

To learn more about advanced scheduling, see the strategies and filters documents.

Swarm API

The Docker Swarm API is compatible with the Docker remote API, and extends it with some new endpoints.

Getting help

Docker Swarm is still in its infancy and under active development. If you need help, would like to contribute, or simply want to talk about the project with like-minded individuals, we have a number of open channels for communication.

  • To report bugs or file feature requests: please use the issue tracker on Github.

  • To talk about the project with people in real time: please join the #docker-swarm channel on IRC.

  • To contribute code or documentation changes: please submit a pull request on Github.

For more information and resources, please visit the Getting Help project page.

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