The big news at DockerCon 2017 was no big news

Past DockerCon events have been a blur of new product announcements, new releases, new partners and big features. Not this year.

The biggest news from DockerCon 2017, the semi-annual conference on Linux containerization, was the lack of big news. After the last two years of feverish development, there are signs one of the hottest trends in tech might be slowing down.

“I’m not sure,” said one software developer loitering just outside of the Austin Convention Center. That was the most common response to my question, “What was the biggest news at DockerCon this year?” I must have asked 30 people that question over my two days at the event. An informal, unscientific polling of my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook connections has been similar.


If my expectations were high, it’s because for the past two years, just trying to stay on top of new developments in the Docker ecosystem had been almost impossible. Hardly a day would pass without news of a new project, a new company or a slew of new features from the legion of companies chasing the Tail of The Whale. These DockerCon events have been a blur of new product announcements, new releases, new partners and big features. Until now.

Docker matures, adoption remains high

That is not to say that there is dwindling interest in Docker or that adoption of containers is slowing down. The opposite is true. Attendance at the Austin Convention Center seemed to be considerably higher than previous shows, although I have not yet seen any official data from Docker. The sessions were jam-packed with attendees, and the expo floor buzzed with activity between them. What I do hear about from attendees is a lot of excitement about some of the new features.

The multi-stage builds were pretty cool,” says Alvin, a San Francisco Bay Area software developer for Yahoo. Alvin is sitting next to me at the Austin airport awaiting the flight back to the Bay Area known locally as the “nerd bird.” Alvin looks thoughtful for a moment, then he suggests, “There was also this one talk about how to publish your own plug-ins.” My conversation with Alvin is cut short as boarding for the nerd bird begins.

Not to worry because there are DockerCon attendees all over this plane.

Sitting next to me is James, a DevOps engineer at AJ+, the millennial hipster division of Al Jazeera. James is one of my favorite types of people, a military veteran with a lifelong love of technology. He’s the kind of guy who goes to meetups and user groups just to meet and talk tech with like-minded people, a real Silicon Valley guy. Unfortunately for James, I have questions, and it’s a three-hour flight to San Jose.

“For me, it was the new tools for rapid spin-up of Swarm clusters, where you can instantly spin up a new cluster on Azure, AWS or Google,” says James. “There was this new project, Image2Docker, that takes a VXD images and creates a Dockerfile. And it was neat to learn that some of the most conservative companies in the world are using Docker now, companies like Metlife and VISA.”

The theme of DockerCon this year is the sound of real people, solving real problems, using Docker in the real world. The difference is palpable as the hype foam begins to recede. It makes for a conference without a climax, a disquieting silence after a long roll of thunder. Docker is becoming mature, responsible and boring. That’s a good thing. Of course, you know what this means. ...

Here comes the flood of serverless startups.