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Not So Fast, Comments on Docker’s Vision

By John Katsaros

Monday’s keynotes at DockerCon 2015 were packed full of vision–good to see. Vision is nice to have, but sooner or later you’ve got put the expertise in place to turn the vision into substance. After the keynote's love affair that Tim Clark wrote about, the speakers unveiled the big picture and then used demos to show where things will evolve—all of it well done. Docker is assuming that the networking world will be delighted to mingle with the applications. That will be harder than it looks.

The networking world is going through an enormous change named SDN – Software Defined Networking and the “SDXizatoin” of everything – Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC), Software Defined Everything. While the roll-out of SDN from networking vendors is about to happen, there remain serious concerns over the timeframe for enterprise adoption and the likelihood that SDN could be a nightmare.

Look at it this way – networking appliances are high margin servers, same types of chips but with higher price tags that come from the value-added software. The networking people will try to move up into the application space (up the stack) while the developer community will try to move down the stack. The networking companies are unlikely to make Dockerization of the infrastructure easy and most likely will put up a fight. Sure, Cisco and Docker are working on some kind of ecosystem partnership. One might think that Cisco is OK with this. Cisco is a master at managing open source initiatives to its benefit—even if it means slowing down the process by a couple of years.

Networking is more than just a few more lines of code in an application. Networking People are different (often called Fat Men with Beards), the Channels are different, the Security issues are different. It’s going to take at least a decade before any of this will happen.

Docker has captured the hearts and minds of the developer community. It remains to be seen whether they can leverage their successes to gain networking adoption.