Deploy Docker Compose Services to Swarm

Docker 1.13 introduced a new version of Docker Compose. The main feature of this release is that it allow services defined using Docker Compose files to be directly deployed to Docker Engine enabled with Swarm mode. This enables simplified deployment of multi-container application on multi-host.

Docker 1.13

This blog will show use a simple Docker Compose file to show how services are created and deployed in Docker 1.13.

Here is a Docker Compose v2 definition for starting a Couchbase database node:

This definition can be started on a Docker Engine without Swarm mode as:

This will start a single replica of the service define in the Compose file. This service can be scaled as:

If the ports are not exposed then this would work fine on a single host. If swarm mode is enabled on on Docker Engine, then it shows the message:

Docker Compose gives us multi-container applications but the applications are still restricted to a single host. And that is a single point of failure.

Swarm mode allows to create a cluster of Docker Engines. With 1.13, docker stack deploy command can be used to deploy a Compose file to Swarm mode.

Here is a Docker Compose v3 definition:

As you can see, the only change is the value of version attribute. There are other changes in Docker Compose v3. Also, read about different Docker Compose versions and how to upgrade from v2 to v3.

Enable swarm mode:

Other nodes can join this swarm cluster and this would easily allow to deploy the multi-container application to a multi-host as well.

Deploy the services defined in Compose file as:

A default value of Compose file here would make the command a bit shorter. #30352 should take care of that.

List of services running can be verified using docker service ls command:

The list of containers running within the service can be seen using docker service ps command:

In this case, a single container is running as part of the service. The node is listed as moby which is the default name of Docker Engine running using Docker for Mac.

The service can now be scaled as:

The list of container can then be seen again as:

Note that the containers are given the name using the format <service-name>_n. Both the containers are running on the same host.

Also note, the two containers are independent Couchbase nodes and are not configured in a cluster yet. This has already been explained at Couchbase Cluster using Docker and a refresh of the steps is coming soon.

A service will typically have multiple containers running spread across multiple hosts. Docker 1.13 introduces a new command docker service logs <service-name> to stream the log of service across all the containers on all hosts to your console. In our case, this can be seen using the command docker service logs couchbase_db and looks like:

The preamble of the log statement uses the format <container-name>.<container-id>@<host>. And then actual log message from your container shows up.

At first instance, attaching container id may seem redundant. But Docker services are self-healing. This means that if a container dies then the Docker Engine will start another container to ensure the specified number of replicas at a given time. This new container will have a new id. And thus it allows  to attach the log message from the right container.

So a quick comparison of commands:

 Docker Compose v2  Docker compose v3
 Start services docker-compose up -d docker stack deploy --compose-file=docker-compose.yml <stack-name> 
 Scale service docker-compose scale <service>=<replicas> docker service scale <service>=<replicas>
 Shutdown docker-compose down docker stack rm <stack-name>
 Multi-host No Yes

Want to get started with Couchbase? Look at Couchbase Starter Kits.

Want to learn more about running Couchbase in containers?


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3 thoughts on “Deploy Docker Compose Services to Swarm

  1. scaling of the *db* service defined in the docker compose v2 file should’ve failed on a single host due to port mappings. how could it work?

  2. How to communicate in v3 of composer between services?

    with the previous version links was working perfectly, but with v3 the services are not communicating for example….
    I have nginx proxy pass and underneath services (nodejs) which should communicate only in internal network, however the names of the services seems not be to resolvable by the nginx and the IP address might change (if not explicitly defined). Any good alternative of how links was used to work but in v3?

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