It might be time to change your perception around containers. From the beginning of DockerCon17 (April 17-20th in Austin), the message was clear. Docker has its sights set on real-world applications, critical workloads and the enterprise. And, with numerous customer proof points, along with an extensive partnership ecosystem, it seems to be well on the way to that objective - perhaps even more.
In four short years, Docker has evolved beyond the curator of an open source project to become an emerging enterprise platform, challenging for relevance among today’s technology titans. As evidence, the event was riddled with examples showcasing its initiative and ability execute in some highly demanding scenarios for very notable companies.
A few of the illustrations:
- ADP – Running critical applications on over 3700+ containers in an established enterprise with greenfield and legacy code. Containers running on mainframe, VM, bare metal, cloud.
- Metlife – Docker and microservices allowed development teams to create what once was inconceivable; a unified front-end application for our customers, employees and agents connecting them to over 400 legacy back-end systems of record.
- Intuit – An illustration in application portability, between developments and IT operations between the datacenter and cloud. Also an announcement that millions of tax returns were transacted on software running on containers.
- VISA – Docker improved developer productivity as well as provided a standard way to compose, package, deploy and manage services.
Beyond those impressive use-cases, it is quite apparent that the enterprise technology ecosystem is falling into line. Microsoft made a headlining announcement showcasing Docker containers available in the Azure Cloud. Oracle followed a day later, with a demonstration of its enterprise-standard database running containerized in a general session illustration. On the exhibition floor several other members of Silicon Valley’s “nobility” were represented, promoting integration into the emerging community (Citrix, Juniper, VMware, more..).
It is easy to predict the container ecosystem becoming an endurable technology category. The movement already boasts an impressive following among cloud-native organizations and developers. However, the more promising development was the increasing mindshare among traditional IT operations and related infrastructure types. Lured by signs of maturity in the platform (LinuxKit) and enhanced migration capabilities (Image2Docker), these gatekeepers of enterprise IT are clearly beginning see a place for containers among the pillars of traditional operations. For further illustration, you can see a few of the customer presentations during the general session, hosted on the DockerCon YouTube Channel.
Despite all the success and excitement on display at DockerCon, it should be noted that the container industry is still in a formative era. Even as signs of maturity were clearly present, questions remain around key functionality needed to move adoption across the “chasm.” Items worthy of highlight were in regard to persistent storage, associated file system features and some wish list items for data management across systems. These are enterprise-grade features and certainly critically important for any advanced consideration in the enterprise. That said, given the rate of innovation within this community, I’m sure matters will be addressed in short time.
Reflecting back on the conference, it’s apparent that the technology competency of Docker and the greater ecosystem is evolving rapidly. Even more impressive are the measures that Docker is taking to focus that pace with the founding of the Moby Project, aimed at aiding collaboration and development. But, what I find to be most compelling is the awareness around that innovation pace and the gap currently present with user adoption. This self-awareness, of sorts, is helping shape efforts around enablement and driving attention to specific use-cases (think about security, application types, mobility, IoT).
In the end, are containers ready for the enterprise? From the proof points offered at DockerCon, I’d say containers are already in the enterprise. At this early stage, think of it as a blend of solutions (micro services vs. monolithic), or applying the right platform for the right project (VM vs. Container). It's obvious Docker and containers fit into cloud-native projects and greenfield application development, perhaps even some areas within traditional IT. With continued advancement, maybe that blend becomes even more interesting.
All of this considered, one thing is certain…. DockerCon 2018 San Francisco.