By Tim Clark
Feb. 2, 2016
HALF MOON BAY, Calif.—Pitching the benefits of Docker containers to chief information officers, Docker CEO Ben Golub wowed a somewhat skeptical audience of CIOs at a Wall Street Journal conference with Docker’s audacious ambition.
“We can replicate essentially in the next two years what it took 15 years of work in virtualization technology in the previous generation,” Golub said in an on-stage interview with WSJ’s Scott Thurm.
Still the CIOs embrace was restrained. “I don’t get the value proposition,” one CIO conference participant said to Golub during Q&A.
Asked about Docker’s value add, Golub responded: “We took great technology used on the operations side and democraticized it.” Beyond that, Golub elaborated on business model, patterns of adoption, and the technical advances Docker brings to IT operations and software developers.
It was something of a missed opportunity for Docker. Before a business-savvy technical audience, Golub stressed technology advantages, not business benefits. He alluded to developer efficiency and DevOps but was largely silent on the business aspects of agility—faster time to market, enabling IT to shift quickly in response to market changes, working with industry partners to restructure business operations. Hampered in part by the questions WSJ editors put to him, Golub mentioned “agility” as Docker’s key value proposition, but he illustrated agility in terms of IT operations.
“What our customers have in common is that they want to use Docker to add agility, to break monolithic legacy applications into pieces, so an application that takes 1,000 developers to build becomes an application that takes 100 developers,” Golub said, adding that containers also can unlock the promise of hybrid cloud environments and Big Data.
Golub mentioned other business-enterprise value propositions:
- Portability between on-premise and cloud applications. “We handle the lifecycle of containers; we make it easy to move containers.”
- Portability2, taking a container application written on a laptop, deploying into testing and then quickly moving it into production, dramatically shortening the time to value.
- Ease of adoption: “You can start with a subset of an application,” he said, “inside a virtual machine or inside a locked-down environment. For many people in operations, this is a natural path to go down. People see it leading to a place that is more stable, more secure.” In addition, enterprises can take a monolithic application, put it in a container, break it into a three-tier application and then break it down further.
Although some Docker users manage containers with other management tools, Docker management tools don’t lock customers into an existing platform or cloud management software, Golub said, touting Docker’s tools as giving enterprises end-to-end visibility and control
Golub acknowledge virtual machines (VMs) as competing with some of containers’ capabilities, and he alluded to Docker’s recent acquisition of Unikernal Systems, which focuses on tinier-than-container bits of code that run without a complete operating system. He also touted Docker’s work with Microsoft on Windows containers, a potential win with CIOs who run a mix of Linux and Windows server environments.