Docker: The first true devops tool?

Docker VP James Turnbull discusses what the container technology means for devops, as well as planned improvements and VMware-like ambitions

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InfoWorld: Docker just acquired Orchard. What is the benefit of this acquisition, and do you anticipate any future acquisitions?

Turnbull: The benefit is, Docker at the moment is very much focused on that developer workflow and providing the compute unit, the container. But in order to deliver what we think is the true value of Docker, you start to look at things like orchestration tools that allow you to build whole applications stacks inside Docker. Orchard built a tool called Fig, and that tool is one of the first orchestration tools from Docker. We think it's a great tool, and we wanted to bring them in-house. As to future acquisitions, I can't speak to that.

InfoWorld: What is the business model for Docker?

Turnbull: We run a software-as-a-service product called the Docker Hub, which is essentially a central point in which people can manage their Docker environments. We also provide support for Docker, so we have the traditional open source support model and we provide self services in education. We'll also, as time goes by, be building tools and extending Docker Hub to provide paid-for services.

InfoWorld: Docker is getting a lot of support from vendors like Microsoft, Red Hat, IBM, and Google. Why is it getting so much support from these major companies? Are there any holdout companies you'd like to see get on the Docker train?

Turnbull: Most of these companies identified that the revolution that's being driven partly by platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. To this point, it's been very infrastructure-centric, and Docker is very developer-centric and these companies identify that as a big gap in the market. They have a huge number of users and customers who are developers, and their tooling is sometimes not great, and Docker provides a way to uplift that tooling. Those companies see that as a really valuable part of the market they need to maintain or capture. I don't see any particular holdouts.

InfoWorld: Do you anticipate any Docker rivals emerging, or do you expect Docker to become the industry standard?

Turnbull: Containers have existed for a long time and no one managed to capture that standard feel. But I think, given the uptake in adoption, we're pretty comfortable that we represent a standard in the container world.

InfoWorld: What's next for Docker? What improvements are planned and when?

Turnbull: We're focused on a couple of big things. The one I mentioned was orchestration that's moving up the stack. The other is what we call trust, and trust is things like we want to be able to provide the ability for Docker users to be able to sign Docker images. This is really important for two groups of people. The first one is the ISVs of the world, and that's who have Oracle, when they publish their WebLogic image, will be able to sign it with a certificate that allows a user to say, "I can check the certificate of this image, and I can guarantee it comes from Oracle." We have a level of security that if a vendor provides a Docker image you can guarantee that it's untouched and safe to use in your environment.

The second thing is it allows customers and consumers to be able to do things like find some controls around who can deploy and run things in their environment. For example, I can sign all my Docker images for production with a particular certificate, then I can ensure that only those images run in production and provide some level of security. This will be probably in the Docker 1.x series. Probably in the next couple months we'll see additional steps in that functionality.

InfoWorld: Where do you think Docker will be in five years?

Turnbull: I hope Docker in five years will be VMware, at least that sort of scale. That would be my anticipation.

InfoWorld: Is VMware a competitor to Docker or not necessarily?

Turnbull: They are a little bit. I would call it frenemies at the moment.

Clearly, the dominant virtualization in the market is hypervisor virtualization. VMware owns the commodity end of that market. We represent somewhat of a threat, but at the moment I think VMware is also acknowledging the fact that they may not actually match the needs of most of their customers. It's large and ungainly. It's not as agile, and their customers recognize that. As their customers start to optimize other parts of their build platforms and other parts of their infrastructure, they come back to this thing and it hasn't changed in five years, essentially, in terms of the startup speeds. It represents a fixed bottleneck in their environments, and I think VMware has to acknowledge the need to make some changes about that.

InfoWorld: Are they not supporting Docker?

Turnbull: They are. We're having some conversations with VMware right now about how we might work together.

This story, "Docker: The first true devops tool?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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