On June 9, Docker.com announced that it will release version 1.0 of Docker, an open source platform that could automate the deployment of various types of applications as lightweight, portable, self-sufficient containers and run them virtually on any infrastructure. This announcement indicates that the platform is ready for commercial use, including lightweight, portable runtime support and packaging via Docker Engine and cloud services for application sharing and process automation via Docker Hub.

We talked to some early adopters of Docker, including global ISVs and local solution providers. We believe that Docker-based solutions will disrupt the server virtualization market segment and further drive the adoption of cloud because of their:

  • Technology advantages. Today’s componentized applications often rely on other components, applications, or services. For instance, your Ruby on Rails applications might rely on MongoDB as a persistence layer while using nginx as a web server. Each component might also have its own set of dependencies, which could conflict with each other. Docker can easily package the necessary dependencies and separate them within their own containers.

Unlike hypervisor-based solutions such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, Docker leverages Linux containers for virtualization. As a result, the containers will be much smaller than traditional virtual machine (VM) images and boot much faster than VMs. Developers can also easily compare containers, debug any problems, and deploy containers onto Amazon Web Services.

  • Business benefits. Docker’s technology advantages could enable tech management professionals to quickly assemble applications on top of components and significantly reduce the effort required by traditional methods of packaging and deployment in development, QA, and production environments. Technical practitioners can ship unmodified business applications faster, on any platform, across on-premises servers and VMs in the cloud. This makes them more agile and able to respond to business requirements and market developments by using the “Copy > Run” procedure rather than the traditional “Install > Configure > Run” mode.
  • Ecosystem support. Docker originated as an open source project at dotCloud, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) firm, in early 2013. Since then, its ecosystem has already grown significantly. Google is proactively integrating Docker into its Google Compute Engine. OpenStack, one of the most popular infrastructure-as-a-service platforms, has also started to embed Docker into its framework, starting with its Havana version. In April, Red Hat announced that it was expanding its collaboration with Docker to bring Docker into its enterprise Linux and OpenShift PaaS offerings. And Baidu, one of China’s leading search engines, is using Docker for its Baidu App Engine PaaS platform.

Docker still has a long way to go. It must enable complex enterprise applications in the cloud, much as VMware vApp simplifies the deployment of multitier applications, have more user-friendly graphical user interfaces for easy management, and provide more debugging and tracing features. But we believe that it’s time for tech management decision-makers to keep an eye on Docker and consider embedding it into cloud solutions to improve business outcomes.