Peggy Collection

Docker's tremendous upside could upset some enterprises

Docker is straightforward to adopt and solves key problems -- and could trip up your cloud app migration strategy

Docker gets a lot of attention, but at issue is the lack of downsides to using this container standard. Yes, you read that right: Having few downsides is an issue.

Why is that a problem? Because most enterprises have figured out their development approaches and even the platforms they'll use. Because Docker has few downsides, it's likely to be used quickly and broadly, throwing a kink in those plans.

Now you might be asking: How?

Docker provides a clear advantage when it comes to application portability over other approaches offered by PaaS and IaaS providers: the ability to place applications into a self-contained unit that can move freely from platform to platform. Docker's solution to the portability problem (in concept, for now) is so compelling that it’s shifting many cloud migration strategies.

Enterprises have spent the last several years trying to figure out the best path to the cloud for some of their applications -- about 1,000 applications for most enterprises. Methods for migrating those applications to the cloud and localizing them for a specific cloud platform have been debated in IT shops over the last several years.

Docker diverts the path these enterprises have set to get to the cloud. Some use a lift-and-shift approach to application migration to save time and money (initially). Others have done complex rewrites so that the applications can take advantage of native features and functions of their cloud platform, which costs more time and money but provides more efficient applications.

Enter Docker and the use of containers, which seem to provide the best path to both portability and distributed performance. Many enterprises have to ask themselves, "Now what?"

With Google, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services all supporting Docker, your management may feel compelled to take a hard look at it as the right enabling technology. If this means rebooting your existing application migration strategy, perhaps even redoing 50 applications, then so be it. After all, the technology is changing so quickly that enterprises should be allowed to change strategy when new developments arise.

However, some enterprises will keep marching in whatever direction they set years ago. Although Docker seems compelling, if you're in such company, it means fessing up to the leadership that the strategy needs to take advantage of a better way of running cloud-based applications, a strategy that will perhaps become the standard as cloud computing continues to move forward. Some organizations can do this, some can't.

But you'd better get used to change if you’re moving to the cloud. There’s more to come beyond Docker.