Tutum Introduction

Tutum is a SaaS Container platform that can be used to build, deploy and manage Docker Containers. Docker acquired Tutum in October 2015. I have been playing with Tutum for the past few weeks and I will share some basics of Tutum and my experiences with Tutum in this blog.


  • Very easy to get started and create Containers and multi-Container applications
  • Works with majority of cloud providers like AWS, GCE and our own node can also be used.
  • Hides orchestration, networking and storage complexity.
  • Provides GUI, CLI as well as api access
  • Gives own private repository within Tutum per user, other repositories can also be used
  • Logging, monitoring, Scaling and HA is built-in
  • Does rolling upgrade automatically
  • Suited for CI, CD Usecases

What can we do with Tutum?

  • Build Docker images from Dockerfiles
  • Have a private repository in Tutum for storing Docker images and also interact with already existing repositories
  • Deploy single container and multi-container application in cloud provider or in our own machine
  • Integrate with Github for automatic Container image build and deploy Containers automatically using rolling upgrade
  • Monitor, debug, manage and upgrade Containers and Services

Getting Started

  • Need Tutum account – Free at this point since Tutum is still in Beta
  • Cloud provider account or own node

Basic Concepts

  • Repositories – Repositories are where Docker images are stored. This can either be Tutum private registry or Docker hub or third-party registry. Repositories can be built from Github.
  • Node clusters – Node clusters are where the Docker Container runs. This can be nodes from any Cloud providers or own Linux node. Tutum installs Tutum agent in every node it manages.
  • Services – Service is a group of Containers with same image tag. For example, 4 Container instances of nginx serving a single application is a Service. Both Service and Containers have endpoints which expose the service.
  • Stacks – Stack is a multi-container application. Tutum allows us to specify a stackfile that is similar to Docker compose file for specifying details of multi-container application (https://stackfiles.io/)

Workflow for deploying simple service or stack

  • Create node cluster from cloud provider or with our own node.
  • Create Service or Stack and deploy.

Workflow for creating new application

  • Checkin code in Github
  • Create repository in Tutum linking to Github. The repository needs to have a Dockerfile and the build will be triggered when there are changes to Github.
  • Use the repository in stack or service creation.
  • The stack or service will be redeployed automatically when the repository is rebuilt.

Example applications that I tried

I created WordPress application using 2 approaches.

  1. Using 3 services: haproxy, wordpress and mysql. In this case, haproxy is loadbalancing between wordpress container and wordpress service is talking to mysql backend.
  2. Using a Stackfile. Stackfile describes the multi-container application along with its dependencies and environment variables. Stackfile is similar to docker-compose.

Following video walks through Tutum Overview along with deploying WordPress application:

Miscellaneous stuff

Tutum agent

Tutum installs Tutum agent in each node Tutum manages. Tutum agent is composed of multiple Containers. Following output shows the lists of Containers running in each Tutum agent as soon as a node is added to Tutum.

root@ip-10-77-46-220:~# docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                          COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
34ee4cec3750        tutum/logrotate:latest         "crond -f"               2 hours ago         Up 2 hours                              logrotate-66477.a986a94d
d12ec595dc30        tutum/events:latest            "/events"                2 hours ago         Up 2 hours                              events-77249.b7e20e33
24c446bda63d        weaveworks/weave:1.4.1         "/home/weave/weaver -"   2 hours ago         Up 2 hours                              weave
e657487303dd        tutum/cleanup:latest           "/run.sh"                2 hours ago         Up 2 hours                              cleanup-89924.73c7ad5e
b5ae1086e390        tutum/metrics:latest           "/metrics"               2 hours ago         Up 2 hours                              metrics-65307.0782d190
fbb5e1d51590        tutum/ntpd:latest              "/run.sh"                2 hours ago         Up 2 hours                              ntpd-73458.5d03cc3b
63675017e46c        tutum/weave-daemon:1.9.1-cs2   "/run.sh"                2 hours ago         Up 2 hours   

ssh to individual Tutum node

Please follow this link to ssh to the individual nodes that Tutum manages. The steps involve creating a public, private key pair and creating a Tutum service that installs the public key into the Tutum node. This Tutum service automatically starts when new node is added is added to cluster.

Difference between Tutum and UCP

Docker also has Universal control plane (UCP) currently in Beta phase targeting similar build, manage and deploy Container use case. Following are some differences that I could understand between Tutum and UCP:

  • UCP is more enterprise focused and has integrations with LDAP, RBAC.
  • UCP is targeted as on-premise solution and Tutum will remain as SaaS
  • Tutum does not use Swarm, Compose and Docker native networking like UCP. This comes from the fact that Tutum was a recent acquisition from Docker
  • Tutum uses stackfile to describe multi-Container applications while UCP uses Compose. Both formats are pretty similar

Working with own node

There is an option to add our new nodes to Tutum cluster. This is useful for scenarios where we want Tutum to manage local data center. I had some issues with removing and adding my own nodes and I have raised this issue here.

Installing Tutum CLI

Tutum CLI can be installed using the link here. Following output shows the node list using Tutum CLI.

smakam14@jungle1:~$ tutum node list
UUID      FQDN                           LASTSEEN                 STATUS      CLUSTER    DOCKER_VER
f46c69ff  f46c69ff-smakam.node.tutum.io  471107 microseconds ago  ▶ Deployed             1.9.1-cs2
b25c4a85  b25c4a85-smakam.node.tutum.io  58 seconds ago           ▶ Deployed  myaws      1.9.1-cs2
7469d928  7469d928-smakam.node.tutum.io  6 seconds ago            ▶ Deployed  myaws      1.9.1-cs2


Tutum is pretty powerful and is very easy to get started with. I would like to see the following in Tutum:

  • Currently, Tutum has its own Orchestration and Networking approach. Would like Tutum to use native Docker integration in long term.
  • Get stackfile to be compatible with docker-compose file.
  • Have Tutum as an On-premise solution as well.


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