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Introducing Docker, Inc: dotCloud Goes All-In On Container Technology

by Richard Seroter on Oct 29, 2013 |

PaaS provider dotCloud  has changed its company name in order to align with the red-hot open source technology it sponsors. Docker, Inc will continue to offer a standalone PaaS product, but is shifting its primary focus to growing and commercializing its namesake software. To get additional insight into the explosive growth of Docker and where the product is going, InfoQ spoke to CEO Ben Golub.

What is Docker? It’s an open source engine that lets developers and system administrators deploy self-sufficient application containers in Linux environments. While admittedly nothing new – as detractors are quick to point out – Docker builds on technologies that are readily available to Linux users today. CEO Ben Golub says that their goal is not to “reinvent the box” but rather, take the good work of others and make containers easier to use, more accessible, and integrated with standard tools. Since its release in March 2013, the Docker.io project has experienced impressive growth, as outlined in a press release today.

Seven months after launching, the Docker project is experiencing increased traction throughout both the developer and dev ops communities, and is part of a rapidly growing ecosystem.

Highlights include:

  • Over 140,000 containers downloaded
  • Over 6,700 GitHub stars and over 800 forks
  • Over 600 GitHub Dockerfiles created in 3 months
  • Thousands of containerized applications on the Docker public registry
  • Over 150 projects built on top of the open source engine
  • Over 50 Meetups in 30 cities around the world
  • Almost 200 contributors, 92 percent of whom don’t work for Docker, Inc.
  • Over 13,000 developers who have successfully completed online Docker training
  • Companies like Yandex, Rackspace, eBay, and CloudFlare talking and blogging publically about their use of Docker
  • Integrations created with some of the most important enterprise projects, including Chef, Puppet, Travis, and Jenkins
  • A growing list of companies launching purpose-built business on top of Docker, including CoreOS, Deis, Flynn, Orchard, and more

Others have taken notice of Docker’s momentum and are racing to create partnerships. Red Hat recently announced a “technical collaboration” with Docker in multiple areas including integration with the Red Hat PaaS platform, OpenShift. Additionally, open-source IaaS project OpenStack included Docker in their latest release, code-named “Havana.”

Why did Docker take off? Golub thinks that “containerization can be one of the most significant enablers of the next generation of computing” and virtual machines aren’t the right unit of work. Instead, people want to work with applications and Golub believes that lightweight containers like Docker offer a nice mix of encapsulation and interoperability.  There’s plenty of room for improvement in the Docker product, according to Golub. Besides wanting improved stability and documentation, developers are asking for ways to create complex, decoupled systems by orchestrating containers. System Administrators are looking for better tools to help them identify containers on a given host and monitor their performance. But the biggest gap is an expected one: the Docker team is still developing its use cases and learning how people want to use it.

While pledging to remain committed to open source, Docker, Inc has a clear commercialization plan.

In early 2014, Docker, Inc. will launch a set of Docker-related commercial offerings, which include managed services for developers (Docker as a Service) and enterprises (including private registries, orchestration, and monitoring). The company also announced plans to build a partner network of service providers, backed by Level III support from Docker, Inc.

The future of the dotCloud PaaS is a little murkier. While Docker, Inc says that they will still offer PaaS services, the clear focus of the company is on Docker itself. While standalone PaaS products offer a great experience for customers, Golub finds that “your best customers outgrow you.” Golub believes that developers definitely want PaaS-like environments, whether delivered via traditional PaaS services or though containers like Docker. It became clear after Docker’s release that this offered them a better chance to have more impact as a company and a community.

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