Ben Golub, Docker CEO, On The Future Of Distributed Applications And Container Technologies

Roughly six weeks after Docker’s announcement of the Docker Hub Enterprise (DHE), Cloud Computing Today spoke to Docker CEO Ben Golub about Docker’s progress in 2014 as well as the future of distributed applications and containers more generally. Golub cited the landmark release of Docker 1.0 in June, the first DockerCon in history and “exponential growth” amongst financial services such as ING and Goldman Sachs as key achievements in 2014. Speaking of the future of distributed applications, Golub noted the increased agility enabled by Docker containers as exemplified by ING’s ability to implement hundreds of changes to an application per day in contrast to the previous state of affairs wherein code changes were released every several months. Golub also remarked on the way in which Docker has now become the “de facto standard” for creating distributed applications in collaboration with over 20,000 APIs and an increasingly vibrant “ecosystem of users contributors and partners.”

Cloud Computing Today: What were some landmarks and key achievements for Docker over the past year?

Ben Golub (CEO, Docker): 2014 was a tremendous year for the Docker project and the outstanding ecosystem of users contributors and partners that comprise the community. The biggest landmark of the year was the release of Docker 1.0 in June at the first ever DockerCon. That production-ready release signaled to developers everywhere that Docker could be depended upon for strategic development workflows. Docker Hub was also released at that time as well which was a critical component in showcasing Docker as an open platform for distributed applications.

Since 1.0, there has been exponential growth in usage in the enterprise with large financial services companies like ING and Goldman Sachs publicly referencing their successes with Docker. That customer traction has led to an incredible burst of strategic partnership announcements during the back half of the year including VMware, Microsoft, Google, AWS and IBM to name a few.

Cloud Computing Today: How do you foresee the future of distributed applications? What is driving their proliferation in the industry?

Ben Golub (CEO, Docker): We expect to see a new generation of Docker-based distributed applications go mainstream in 2015, as enterprises are recognizing the many benefits associated with these agile applications. Distributed applications are 100% portable, are composed of discrete interoperable services, have a dynamic lifestyle and are backed by an incredible ecosystem of technology partners .These capabilities are very attractive to today’s businesses which need to deliver differentiated offerings to maintain a competitive edge. For example, ING’s use of Docker enables the bank to make application innovations over 300 times a day, where in the past they were able to make a single change every nine months.

Cloud Computing Today: How do you envision the future of container technologies more generally in 2015?

Ben Golub (CEO, Docker): Docker container technology has become the de facto standard for creating a composable set of services for building distributed applications. Through support of open APIs, there is now a flourishing ecosystem of 20,000 tools to support Docker and over 70,000 Dockerized applications. This critical mass is helping to foster an evolution of how container technologies are being leveraged. That evolution as we showcased at DockerCon EU in December is to multi-container multi-host distributed applications.

Docker Announces Docker Hub Enterprise And Platform Of Orchestration Services

Docker today announced details of Docker Hub Enterprise (DHE), a product that delivers workflow and docker management capabilities behind enterprise firewalls. As such, the Docker Hub Enterprise expands upon the capabilities of the existing Docker Hub platform by giving developers a method of sharing and collaborating on Docker applications behind their organization’s firewall. Docker users subsequently enjoy an enhanced degree of strategic control and security regarding the development and management of Docker applications. Docker CEO Ben Golub elaborated on the significance of Docker Hub Enterprise as follows:

Docker Hub Enterprise is Docker’s foundation for establishing relationships with our rapidly expanding enterprise customer base, who view the Docker open platform as the cornerstone of their distributed application strategy. These organizations want a behind-the-firewall solution that enables them to leverage both the broader ecosystem and the more dynamic development environment that Dockerization has enabled. Our vision for DHE is that it will evolve from the place to share and collaborate on distributed applications to a strategic control point for both developers and sysadmins to manage all aspects of the application development lifecycle – from build through production – on any infrastructure they choose.

Here, Golub elaborates on the way in which Docker Hub Enterprise promises to emerge as the “strategic control point” for the management of application development that leverages Docker containers. Prior to the launch of Docker Hub Enterprise, developers and system administrators needed to amalgamate open source tools to enable the sharing, distribution and collaboration of Docker applications behind an organization’s firewall. Now, DHE enables the creation of multi-container, distributed applications that accommodate the application lifecycle workflow requirements and protocols of Docker applications. Moreover, developers will continue to enjoy the ability to create distributed applications dispersed over multiple Docker containers by taking advantage of the functionality of Docker repositories and services hosted on the Docker hub.

Docker Hub Enterprise will be delivered through Docker Authorized Partners. At launch, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM will render DHE available to their customers. Microsoft and Amazon Web Services will make DHE available through the Azure marketplace while Amazon Web Services will make Docker available through AWS Test Drives and AWS Quick Start Reference Deployments. The AWS Test Drives and AWS Quick Start Reference Deployments allow customers to explore software applications and architectures at no cost before incorporating them into their production-grade application deployments. Meanwhile, IBM will deliver DHE as a cloud-based and on-premise solution. The announcement of Docker Hub Enterprise comes in conjunction with news of the availability of a platform of orchestration services that facilitate the management of multi-container applications in recognition of the evolving need to manage and orchestrate large numbers of containers across multiple host environments and infrastructures. The combination of Docker Hub Enterprise with Docker’s newly announced orchestration services underscores the paradigm shift in application development away from the creation of persistent applications on servers or VMs toward distributed applications constituted by discrete components housed within interoperable containers. Docker’s orchestration platform is amongst the most comprehensive in the market today and responds to the cottage industry of products and services focused around container management. Docker Hub Enterprise will be available for early access in February 2015.

Amazon Announces Support For Docker With EC2 Container Service

Last Thursday, November 13, Amazon Web Services announced the availability of EC2 Container Service (ECS) to facilitate the management of Docker technology qua containers on the Amazon Web Services platform. The announcement represents another notable endorsement of Docker technology by a major cloud vendor that promises to continue catapulting Docker’s container technology to the forefront of the cloud computing revolution. Docker, recall, is a platform that enables developers to create and transport distributed applications. Docker streamlines software development by ensuring that applications housed within Docker containers remain unchanged when transported from one environment to another, thereby reducing the probability that applications which run smoothly in test environments fail in production. Docker’s container technology also introduces greater efficiencies with respect to the creation of applications by means of well defined parameters regarding application dependencies that enable developers to more effectively diagnose bugs and performance-related issues as they arise.

ECS enables Amazon customers to create clusters featuring thousands of containers across multiple Availability Zones. Moreover, ECS empowers customers to terminate and start containers in addition to providing scheduling functionality that optimizes the collective performance of containers within a cluster. ECS also allows users to transport containers from the AWS platform to on-premise infrastructures and vice versa while additionally providing deep AWS integration that allows customers to take advantage of AWS’s “Elastic IP addresses, resource tags, and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)” that effectively transform Docker containers into another layer of the AWS platform on par with EC2 and S3, according to a blog post by Amazon’s Jeff Barr. Amazon’s announcement of its EC2 Container Service for container management means that it accompanies Microsoft and Google in offering support for Docker deployment, management and orchestration. Google’s Kubernetes project enables Docker container management on the Google Cloud Platform, while Microsoft Azure recently announced support for Kubernetes on the Azure platform.

The bottom line here is that Docker’s ability to enable the deployment of applications within containers as opposed to virtual machines has captured the minds of developers and enterprise customers to such a degree that the most significant IaaS players in the industry are differentially announcing indigenous or borrowed support for Docker technology. The key question now concerns the extent to which Docker usage proliferates to the point where it becomes the de facto standard for the deployment of applications and whether its technology can support the convergence of cloud computing and Big Data in the form of data-intensive applications designed to perform analytics on real-time, streaming data. Docker users will also be interested in container management frameworks that inter-operate across cloud frameworks such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services in contrast to management frameworks designed for one cloud infrastructure as opposed to another.

Docker Closes $15M In Series B Funding; Greylock’s Jerry Chen To Join Docker Board

Docker recently finalized $15M in Series B funding in a round led by Greylock Partners with participation by Insight Venture Partners and existing investors Benchmark, Trinity Ventures and Yahoo Co-founder Jerry Yang. As a result of the investment, Jerry Chen of Greylock Partners, who was formerly VP of Cloud and Application Services at VMware, will be joining Docker’s board of directors. The recent capital raise brings the total funding raised by the company to $26M. The funding will be used to invest in the open source Docker project, build out a community platform and explore options for commercialization of Docker’s container technology.

Docker’s open source container technology provides a way for developers to streamline the migration of code from a development environment to a cloud-based platform. Docker containers allow developers to transport applications to private or public clouds while minimizing the configuration and additional preparation needed to deploy the application. Because virtualization operates at the level of the server, applications and their operating systems need to be migrated when moving from a dev to a cloud environment. The innovation of Docker’s technology is that only the application needs to be moved, thereby removing the necessity of migrating the OS and configuring it appropriately in the target cloud environment. Overall, Docker’s containers facilitate the portability of code and simplify application deployment.

Docker began as a Platform as a Service called dotCloud, before famously pivoting thanks to the vision of Solomon Hykes, Docker’s CEO at the time. Nine months since Docker was open sourced, the company now boasts over 400,000 product downloads and 300 contributors. Docker containers are used by the likes of eBay, Yandex and Baidu and its technology is supported by OpenStack, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine and Red Hat. Like Red Hat, Docker intends to wrap professional services and subscription-based management functionality around its core open source product. Given the product’s meteoric adoption in the space of 9 months, the industry should expect to see even greater usage of Docker technology over the course of 2014, particularly in light of the place of its technology in the emerging DevOps revolution and its attendant transformation of enterprise IT.