Docker has a business plan headache


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What is Docker and why is it so popular?

Docker is hotter than hot because it allows a lot more apps to run on the same old servers and it’s also super easy to package and ship programs. Here’s what you need to know about it.

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We love containers. And, for most of us, containers mean Docker. As RightScale observed in its RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud report, industry adoption of Docker rose to 49%, up from 35% in 2017.

All is not well in Docker-land

There’s only one problem with that: while Docker, the technology, works great, Docker, the company, doesn’t do half as well.

For users, this is not much of a problem. Whatever the future of Docker as a business, Docker technology is both open source and standard. Docker could go out of business today, and you would still be using Docker containers tomorrow.

Also read: Poor Docker Security Could Lead to Amplified Vulnerabilities Due to Container Efficiency

Of course, that’s another story if you have a contract with Docker. But, as boring as it turns out – let alone an ugly mark on the balance sheet – it shouldn’t impact your business flow. Containers are now a well-known technology. Securing and managing them remains problematic, but deploying and executing them? Not really.

However, you should know that all is not well in Docker-land.

What is the business plan?

Docker’s problem is simple: it doesn’t have a viable business plan.

This is not the market. According to 451 Research, “The application container market will explode over the next five years. Annual revenue is expected to quadruple from $ 749 million in 2016 to over $ 3.4 billion by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent . “

Also read: Top Cloud Providers 2018: How AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Oracle, Alibaba Compare

But to generate that income, you need a business that can operate containers. So Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and all the other big public cloud companies make their money from customers who want to get the most out of their server resources. Others, like Red Hat / CoreOS, Canonical, and Mirantis, offer easy-to-use container approaches for private clouds.

Docker? It provides the open source framework for the most popular container format. It’s great, but it’s not a business plan.

Confusion is not what you want

According to former CEO Ben Golub, Docker’s plan was to create a subscription-based business model. The driving force behind its Enterprise Edition, with its three levels of service and functionality, was container orchestration using Docker Engine’s swarm mode. Docker, the company, also renamed Docker, the open source software, to Moby while continuing to use Docker as the name for its commercial software products.

Also read: Docker appoints industry veteran as new CEO

This led to more than a bit of confusion. Quickly done! How many of you knew that Moby was now the “official” name for the Docker program? Confusion is not what you want in sales.

A few weeks later, Golub was out and Steve Singh from SAP was there.

Docker never explained why Singh was brought in from outside to become the leader, but it doesn’t take a genius to see basic container technologies become commonplace. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Open Container Initiative (OCI) standard turned today’s container fundamentals, including Docker containers themselves, into open standards. There wasn’t a lot of added value Docker could offer its corporate customers.

As Dave Bartoletti, a Forrester analyst, said, The register at the time: “The poor man has to figure out how to make money at Docker. It’s not easy when a lot of people in the community bristle at anyone trying to make money.”

The rise of Kubernetes

What makes things a lot harder for Docker’s business plans is that Docker swarm and all the other orchestration programs have found themselves overwhelmed by the rise of Kubernetes.

Also read: Docker LinuxKit: Secure Linux containers for Windows, macOS, and clouds

Today, Kubernetes, whether it’s Google’s big plan to build a Google cloud stack or not, dominates cloud orchestration. Even Docker adopted Kubernetes due to customer demand in October 2017.

When your main added value is container orchestration and everyone and their uncle have adopted another container orchestration program, what can you offer customers? Good question.

Docker was also faced with internal changes. Solomon Hykes, co-founder and former CTO, was kicked upstairs to become vice chairman of the board and chief architect. Hykes, a controversial lightning rod, was also the public face of the company. He’s been a lot calmer lately.

Red Hat’s response was to buy CoreOS, Docker’s main rival. This gave Red Hat not only its own container platform, but also its own Kubernetes enterprise platform: Tectonic.

Docker really needs money from customers

So what should you do if you are dependent on support from Docker, the company? I would look to my operating system and cloud providers for help. After all, most of them, Red Hat, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, SUSE, VMware, etc., already have Docker built-in.

Also read: Docker and IBM extend their partnership

Over the past few months, Docker has raised an additional $ 75 million in venture capital. This brings Docker’s total capitalization to a rather incredible $ 250 million from ME Cloud Ventures, Benchmark, Coatue Management, Goldman Sachs and Greylock Partners. It’s a lot of money, but I still don’t see how Docker is going to pay.

Investor money is great, but what Docker really needs is customer money.

For most corporate users, there are no real worries here. Docker or Moby, the standard container is both open source and an open standard. For Docker investors, well, that’s another story.

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