Docker CEO: Our container goes anywhere

The cloud era is in full swing, and Docker provides an answer to its greatest hazard: platform lock-in. An exclusive interview with Docker CEO Ben Golub

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InfoWorld: Do you have a sense of the types of applications people are using Docker for right now?

Golub: There're four major areas of interest. The biggest one, I'll say, is sort of CI/CD [continuous integration/continuous delivery], generally speaking. So people who want to be able to go really quickly from development all the way through to production. So people like eBay and others, and RelateIQ and others, talk publicly about what Docker has done to revolutionize that.

The second major use case is people who are looking at some kind of a hybrid cloud deployment, where they're looking for an easy way to either develop in private and move to the cloud or develop in the cloud and move private (or burst between). And Docker provides a really great framework for doing that. And now the major cloud providers are also supporting Docker.

The third major use case we're seeing is what's called big data scale-out, where a VM was never appropriate. If you're trying to do computation across hundreds of machines and scale out and then scale back just as quickly, something really lightweight that's easy to create, easy to throw away, is the right model.

The fourth is people who are offering multitenant services and are using Docker as a way to do that. So this is like Baidu, which is China's Google.

InfoWorld: Website hosting?

Golub: It's actually there for their PaaS. So they're creating a PaaS based on Docker. Yandex did the same thing -- the Google of Russia. And now the Google of Mountain View is sort of doing the same type of things.

InfoWorld: So development on the public cloud is obviously a big part of this momentum.

Golub: Yeah. But I think in general ... a developer tends to start with a personal project, stateless, loves it, and then brings it into the organization for simple apps. And then very quickly a sysadmin sees it and says: Oh, we could actually use this in production as well. And then they start thinking about more complex apps where each of the components is containerized and linked together. That's the general trend that we're seeing.

InfoWorld: A foundation for distributed applications?

Golub: Yeah. Containers not only provide the right level of abstraction from the application in the host, but they also provide the right level of abstraction between containers. So that if you want to have a complex multitier app, you can put the application and the database and the data each in separate containers, and move them around as appropriate. We've provided the tools that let you orchestrate or define how containers interact.

InfoWorld: What open source license do you use?

Golub: We're Apache. We went as open as we could. Apache is the most permissive license; it's open design.

InfoWorld: You already have quite an ecosystem out there of people who are doing stuff.

Golub: There are some 350 projects built on top of Docker and at least 20 startups that we know of that are sort of Docker-based. We're actually one of the largest projects on GitHub.

InfoWorld: That's a claim to fame in itself.

Golub: It truly is a community driving this. Given that 95 percent of the contributors to the project don't work for Docker, Inc., we have to be pretty humble about who's really driving this project forward.

InfoWorld: What sort of app deployments is Docker not good for?

Golub: If you've written an app that has specific requirements on specific features in a specific version of the kernel, Docker is not going to be that helpful to you. It's certainly not designed to let you run a Mac program on a Windows box or vice versa. You want to use a VM for that. If you're wedded to the notion of state, you want to be using a VM.

InfoWorld: As CEO of Docker, what keeps you up at night?

Golub: Work. I could say I sleep like a baby -- which means I'm up screaming. The pace is going so rapidly, and I think the expectations that have been placed on us are so high that I really just want to make sure that we do a great job delivering against it.

This article, "Docker CEO: Our container goes anywhere," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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