At the Docker user conference in Amsterdam yesterday, executives at the popular enterprise startup unveiled an array of new features to manage and run applications across its trendy container technology, released in open source in March last year.

Docker provides an alternative to virtualisation technologies, automating the deployment of applications inside software containers on a single physical server. Using resource isolation features, Docker containers are able to avoid running their own guest operating systems, and therefore benefit from efficiency gains over virtual machines.

In September the Docker team announced $40mn in fresh funding, just eight months after bringing in $15mn from a funding round. Docker has now revealed that it has been developing a range of tools which businesses can deploy to help manage intricate applications from within Docker containers.

The first of these tools announced at this week’s DockerCon was Docker Hub Enterprise (DHE), a commercial management suite which offers private storehouses, providing access to Docker-style applications and services. The hub sits behind a firewall thus attracting security-conscious businesses to use Docker.

“As those [Docker-based] applications become true business differentiators, [businesses] need to have [those apps] behind their firewall, aligned with workflows that have to be set up in a place with security and governance, to make sure that all I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed in that regard in the application life cycle,” said David Messina, Docker’s vice president of enterprise marketing.

DHE is expected to be released in early-access in February 2015, along with a fleet of orchestration features to support the running of Docker applications:

Docker Machine – An automated service for third-party infrastructure vendors to have Docker Engine set up on their systems, so that when developers send across a container the system can process the container without the need for the developer to intervene.

“One of the challenges for developers is setup time getting Docker Engine up and running on specific infrastructure. This allows infrastructure partners like VMware or DigitalOcean to make the engine available to developers and operators through simple commands from a laptop,” Messina explained.

Docker Swarm – A clustering-service which works with Docker Engine to create a resource pool of the host services on which the distributed applications run. As Messina described, “Clustering is defining a pool of resources across multiple hosts to schedule where the containers will run based on resource requirements.”

Docker Compose – Allows developers to create a container configuration file using a set of containers which build up an application stack. Once created, developers are free to adjust the file easily by adding and removing containers. “This is all about accelerating the creation of distributed applications,” Messina added.

In a joint statement with IBM, Docker also announced the beta release of the IBM Containers service for running containerised applications on IBM public cloud. This offer matches similar container services from providers such as Amazon Web Services and Joyent, also announced in recent weeks.

The new IBM deal will also see the multinational tech giant selling DHE, which it hopes will provide companies with a better way of building, shipping and running Docker multi-container, multi-host applications in the cloud.

“This will provide companies an environment that is simpler to manage and offers increased utilisation and performance in a more flexible execution model, expanding the types of applications that can be supported on the IBM Cloud,” IBM said in a statement.

These announcements came amid industry hype following CoreOS’ unveiling of a new App Container technology to rival Docker containers. The news of a shiny new alternative has spurred much discussion among experts and developers, and has highlighted container technology as a major cloud player. Yesterday’s releases suggest that Docker is keen to stay ahead of the game.