Running docker containers on cloud foundry in ibm cloud

If you are an experienced developer already familiar with Docker, here’s a quick way to just deploy your containers into the cloud without having to worry about setting up and managing a Kubernetes cluster and important also … it comes for free using Cloud Foundry !

Let’s start by creating a simple NodeJS application locally using ‘npm init’, give your app a name e.g. ‘tinyapp’ and use ‘server.js’ as the entry point.

This will generate a ‘package.json’ file:

  "name": "tinyapp",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "server.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC"

Next install the NodeJS ‘Express-framework’ using the command:

# npm install express --save

Create a NodeJS application file ‘server.js’

const express = require('express');
const app = express();
const port = process.env.PORT || 3000;

app.get('/', (req,res) => res.send('Hello there !!!'));
app.listen(port, () => console.log(`Example app listening on port ${port}!`));

Test the NodeJS application locally using the command

# node server.js

This will launch the app locally to listen on port 3000. You can verify the working of the app with a browser.

Now we can already deploy this app onto Cloud Foundry with the standard NodeJS runtime buildpack using the command:

# cf push tinynodejs

Once the deployment is done we can test the app using the given URL with Curl or with a Web Browser.

Of course you will need an IBM CLoud account for this. If you don’t have an account you can register for a free Lite account - no credit card needed !

More details on using the IBM Cloud CLI can be found here:

You might get an error during deployment as Cloud Foundry will try to deploy your app using 1G of memory by default and with a lite account you’re limitted to 256M. In order to resolve this you can create a manifest.yaml file from your failed deployed application using the command :

# cf create-app-manifest tinynodejs -p manifest.yaml

Next you can edit the local manifest.yaml file and change the memory to e.g. 128M and do a ‘cf push’ again.

This is the most common way to deploy an applcation using a Cloud Foundry runtime.

Let’s now ‘Dockerize’ our application.

First we need to create a ‘Dockerfile’ with following content:

FROM node
COPY package.json /app
RUN npm install
COPY . /app
CMD node server.js

Next perform a docker build:

# docker build . -t tinyapp

Now you can verify the docker image was stored successfully:

# docker images
REPOSITORY                TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
tinyapp                   latest              e30aeb035b14        59 seconds ago      948MB

Run the container locally:

# docker run -p 8080:3000 -d tinyapp

Verify the container is running:

# docker ps

And access the application using http://localhost:8080 as the initial port 3000 is now mapped to port 8080 on Docker.

CONTAINER ID  IMAGE    COMMAND                 CREATED        STATUS        PORTS                              NAMES
1e8571529040  tinyapp  "docker-entrypoint.s…"  7 minutes ago  Up 7 minutes  8080/tcp,>3000/tcp   hungry_montalcini

You can also execute a shell command into the container using:

# docker exec -it 1e8571529040 /bin/bash

Next we can deploy this docker image to the cloud using Cloud Foundry ‘cf push’ command but before we do that we will first clean up the existing app:

# cf delete tinynodejs

Caution here because deleting the app does not delete the application route ! You can check this with:

# cf routes

So let’s also delete the route:

# cf delete-route --hostname tinynodejs

And now deploy the Docker container:

First we need to upload our Docker image to a central container repository e.g.

  • login to Dockerhub:

      # docker login --username=ydebeer
  • tag local image using the ‘IMAGE ID’

      # docker tag e30aeb035b14 ydebeer/tinynodejs:latest
  • push the image to your Dockerhub repository:

      # docker push ydebeer/tinynodejs:latest

And now we can push the image to run on the IBM Cloud using CLoud Foundry:

# cf push tinynodejs -o ydebeer/tinynodejs:latest

And there you have it: a NodeJS app running as a Docker container in the IBM Cloud.

Written on May 5, 2020