ColdFusion Docker Image Released

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On April 25, 2018, Adobe released the long awaited, official, Docker Image for ColdFusion 2016! ColdFusion 2018’s image is in the works.

I am excited about this primarily for two reasons:

#1 Development: we can create a docker image that can possibly be passed around to developers either as general use or specific to a customer’s setup. This has the potential to speed up “ramp-up time” for developers when beginning a new client workload.

#2 Fix AWS AMI’s: The current AMI solution on AWS is bleak. You’re limited to operating systems that are either the wrong flavor of Linux for you or an outdated Windows Server version. You are also stuck with the inability to upgrade the OS or ColdFusion. I’m hoping this makes its way into the AWS container library that you can lease month-to-month, both in the Standard and Enterprise flavors.

docker-cloud-serversAdobe choose the JFrog container repository over Docker Hub “due to licencing and distribution issues”. This seems to be a common theme with Adobe, but at least it’s out there. You can find these repos at https://bintray.com/eaps/coldfusion.

As of 4/26/2018, you will find the following images:

  • ColdFusion Server (2016)
  • ColdFusion Addons (2016)
  • ColdFusion API Manager (2016)
  • ColdFusion API Manager Addons (2016)

The “ColdFusion Server” contains the “barebones” only. It runs the bundled “built-in” web server (normally port 8500).

You’d then normally want to connect Apache or IIS to ColdFusion using wsconfig. However that’s not possible, in the common sense, here. The reason being is that you’re in a container that has no real access to the outside space, including your webserver services.

So in this case you’ll need to treat this as a distributed setup. You’ll need to copy some files, including wsconfig, onto your Apache file system – likely in another container. From there you’ll run wsconfig and connect it to the “remote” ColdFusion instance. There are some basic instructions at http://blogs.coldfusion.com/setting-up-coldfusion-in-distributed-envionment/ and Adobe says they will work on an official instruction set. I also plan on posting my own instructions. I don’t think this will work with IIS without a hack, but this is definitely something I’d want. The majority of web servers we maintain are IIS.

When you run the ColdFusion container, you are able to pass in a limited set of environment variables. They range include items such as password, secure profile, external session info, addons, and a startup script.

The setup script will be a .CFM file that calls the admin object. Here you will script items such as datasources. However, as far as I know, not all admin functions are available via the API. One of the major benefits of running containers is to have a disposable environment that can easily be recreated. In order to do this, you must be able to script out all your configuration. I would also like to see all settings be available in the environment variables as that’s what it’s intended for. Using a script is more or less a hack that needs additional maintenance.

Another method is mounting a volume for configuration files such as JVM.config and neo-*.xml files. I have to experiment with this to figure out how that would work.

The third method would be to mount a directory that has CAR archives into “/data” and configurations in the archive would be automatically imported during container setup. However this is a rather static method and not easy to manage. However according to Immanual Noel, on 4/27/2018, Adobe is having an issue importing DSN’s and scheduled tasks in this fashion and are currently working on this issue.

The final method would be to use Ortus’s CFConfig CLI. You could pass in a JSON string and let it build out the configuration. This might actually be one of the best ways to do it. I’m hoping Adobe’s implementation catches up to this quickly though. Ortus has great open source products for ColdFusion, but this shouldn’t be required.

The “ColdFusion Addons” container runs SOLR and PDF services. The “.NET” service will not exist as it is a Linux container. I would have preferred separating out the services though due to the container pattern of one service per container. This extends the ColdFusion container.

According to Adobe, they are not going to create a Windows container at this point due to performance issues they saw. But the great thing about Docker on Windows is that it’s capable of running both Windows and Linux containers. It’s very rare that I need to run .NET, however that does leave my 2 points out in the cold if a customer uses it.

In conclusion, I look forward to testing this out and perhaps implementing this solution where it makes sense.

Other resources to read:

  • https://www.cutterscrossing.com/index.cfm/2018/4/18/Adventures-in-Docker-Land
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