Docker, the startup behind the popular open-source Linux containerization engine of the same name, is ready to take on the enterprise – or at least so it claims. The company officially completed the first leg of its ambitious development roadmap this morning with the launch of Docker 1.0, which brings the project a major step closer to production readiness.
The release is the culmination of an industry-wide development effort involving hundreds of contributors that spawned just 15 months ago from an internal project at dotCloud, an obscure platform-as-a-service provider that wasn’t satisfied with the virtualization technologies available on the market at the time. So, taking a page from the book of fellow aspiring AWS contender 10gen, it decided to build its own.
The initiative, led by dotCloud founding CTO Solomon Hykes, resulted in the creation of a faster and lighter alternative to traditional hypervisors that makes it possible to run multiple virtual machines under a shared kernel instead of including a full operating system in each. Besides significantly reducing hardware requirements, this bare-bone approach to virtualization lowers management complexity as well. And since all the major Linux distributions use the same kernel (notwithstanding some minor differences,) Docker also provides out-of-the-box portability on top of everything else.
In March 2013, the platform was released under an open-source license. Its unique combination of performance and simplicity soon catapulted it, and dotCloud, into the center of industry attention, garnering hundreds of thousands of monthly downloads and attracting an army of outside contributors eager for a head start on the next big thing in virtualization.
From there, the company continued in the footsteps of 10gen, shifting its strategic focus from conquering the public cloud to capitalizing on the surprise success of its homegrown software and rebranding accordingly within two months of the latter firm doing the same. The move was only natural, according to Hykes. Docker “became a thing, even bigger than dotCloud has ever been, so changing the company[‘s name] was just admitting that it’s big,” he told SiliconANGLE in an interview at Red Hat Summit 2014.
The April conference saw the Linux distributor and Docker significantly expand their year-old partnership with extensive product integrations spanning the bulk of the former’s formidable portfolio and the introduction of a jump-start initiative aimed at helping joint customers get their pilot deployments off the ground.
Building off the dock
Today’s release builds on that foundation. Docker 1.0 brings with it much-needed additional training resources and documentation as well a new Enterprise Support offering featuring two tiers: standard and premium. The program provides an extra layer of protection against outages and other technical difficulties that is absolutely essential for the majority of organizations which lack the specialized talent necessary to troubleshoot problems on their own as efficiently as professional help allows.
Even more notable than the availability of support services is that, besides the containerization engine itself, the Docker umbrella now includes a new cloud-based service for collaborating on workflows and “user content,” which could either mean code contributions, containerized applications or both.
Docker said that the offering is integrated into the project but hasn’t revealed much beyond that, not even if it will be free or require a subscription. However, Nick Stinemates, who is in charge of business development for the company, described the product as a “central hub to be able to query relevant contribution information, find relevant metrics, and allow the maintainers to guide the community on priorities and milestones” in an entry on the docker-dev Google Group dated August 2013.