SAN FRANCISCO — Docker CEO Steve Singh kicked off his company's DockerCon 18 conference here today, offering the assembled crowd of container enthusiasts a clear vision of where Docker is going.
For Docker Inc, the company behind the eponymous container system, a lot is at stake. This is the first DockerCon where the founder of the company, Solomon Hykes, is not present. Hykes left Docker in March, as the company direction has increasingly turned its focus to enterprise adoption and commercial market growth.
Docker is now also facing more competition than ever before, thanks to the company's embrace of the Kubernetes container orchestration system. Until 2018, Docker had only publicly supported its own Swarm container orchestration.
However, as of April 2018, Docker Enterprise Edition (Docker EE) provides a fully supported Kubernetes distribution. As a result, Docker now competes in a market against multiple Kubernetes distributions, including Red Hat's OpenShift and Pivotal's Container Service (PKS).
For Docker's Singh, the promise of Docker is as it has always been, to help unlock innovation and to enable choice.
"The purpose of this community is to bring out and unlock the innovation and potential within every company," Singh said. "That is our opportunity."
When it comes to choice, Singh and Docker's Chief Product Officer Scott Johnston both emphasized Docker is unique in that it allows more choice than other container options. Rather than being tied to a particular operating system, or a particular operating system vendor, Docker works with multiple Linux distributions, including Red Hat, and runs on multiple operating systems, including both Windows and Linux.
During the entertaining demos during the first day keynotes, a Docker EE management plane was shown running on a Windows Server, managing both Windows and Linux containers, with both Swarm and Kubernetes.
Docker is also boosting its development sell, aiming to make it easier for developers to build containers with an update to Docker Desktop that includes a template-driven approach to application development.
The Rise of Kubernetes and the Slide of Docker?
In the early days of Docker, Docker literally was the beginning and end for container innovation. As competition ramped up, Kubernetes emerged and some have held the opinion that Docker's impact has been somewhat marginalized.
While there is no doubt the conversation about containers is now much broader than just Docker Inc, Docker Inc still has a core role to play, despite the naysayers. Though there are multiple options for container runtimes today, I strongly suspect the vast majority of all container deployments today still run on the Docker Engine.
Even when it comes to Kubernetes as an enabler for multi-cloud management, Docker has a story to tell. Kubernetes is now supported on all major public cloud providers, but getting a consistent policy and deployment across them all is not an easy task.
Multiple vendors are tackling that challenge, including Docker, and there is still room for innovation in that area. While there are many solved problems when it comes to containers, there are still user and enterprise pain points.
Docker's mission now is to remain a leading voice in the broader cloud native community, to continue solving real challenges that enterprises and developers face, and to continue expanding and growing the legacy of its founder, Solomon Hykes.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.