Docker does a GitHub and starts charging for extra features

As part of an ongoing effort to fund Docker development, now offers private repositories as a for-pay feature

Hot on the heels of a slew of recent Docker developments -- Red Hat offering certification for Docker apps, third-party distribution solutions like Deis popping up -- Docker itself has an announcement: It's starting to offer features only available to paying customers. The first of those new features, the ability to host private Docker repositories on that are made available only to the people you want, feels like it was taken straight from GitHub's playbook.

Users on the free tier will not see their existing plans change. Anyone can continue to create an unlimited number of public repositories on For private repos, pricing is set at $7 per month for five private repos.

Several other new features have been announced as well, available to all users to dispel the notion that this will mean the end of new features being made available for users on the free tier:

  • The ability to browse repos by tags and to visually inspect changes within each layer of a given repo; this allows for a better understanding of how two or more given images might be both quite similar and radically different in their various layers
  • Webhooks, which allow a successful push to a given repo to trigger notifications to other apps
  • Triggers, which allow Trusted Builds to be booted by making a simple POST request
  • Links, which allow Trusted Build repos to be synched with each other -- updates to a linked repo automatically update the Trusted Build associated with it
  • A notification push service, which alerts you in the event of a number of conditions -- such as if a Trusted Build fails

When dotCloud changed its name to Docker Inc., questions abounded as to how Docker would commercialize itself. In an interview with ActiveState, Docker CEO Ben Golub noted a great deal of work could be done around workflow and metadata, two issues that have been addressed in part with these new features.

But Golub also hinted at several other capabilities that could become monetized, such as monitoring services or orchestration and migration. The former avenue, where a company offers a free product but sells cloud-based metrics and analysis for it, has been explored as a possible business model (one of many, to be sure) for companies like

To that end, Docker's new mission is twofold: To maintain a good balance between what most everyone wants for free and what a select few are willing to pay for, and to keep adding new features to Docker (the product) and (the service) that are worth the effort.

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