By John Katsaros and Tim Clark
December 10, 2015
Docker Inc.’s news and messaging out of its DockerCon EU last month in Barcelona illustrate the company’s evolving marketing targets. When Docker started focusing on containers in 2013, it was the quintessential developer company under the vision of founder and CTO Solomon Hykes. Docker has clearly won the first phase of the container wars against all comers.
At its event in Spain, Docker’s messaging aimed at convincing IT leaders that Docker was technically ready (i.e. safe and secure) for mainstream IT operations. Hence the spate of Docker container security announcements and the unveiling of Universal Control Plane, an on-premise solution for managing containerized applications across public, private or hybrid clouds. Rolled into those IT messages were assurances to developers that Docker remains the sexiest container in town.
The next logical target for Docker would be enterprise business managers who will derive business value from Docker’s container technology. These business value propositions include greater agility, faster time to market, etc. Until the technical advantages of Docker are expressed as business benefits, Docker will remain a niche technology.
Docker’s next transition in messaging will be crucial for the company’s growth. Docker CEO Ben Golub, an executive with experience marketing to business organizations, should lead this charge in messaging on business benefits. As a featured speaker at a Wall Street Journal conference for CIOs Feb. 1-2, 2016, in Half Moon Bay, Calif., he has the opportunity to debut Docker’s enterprise messaging to an important audience. His topic, "What does the innovation of container technology mean for business? And when should a company make the leap?," invites new, business-oriented value propositions.
However, if Docker stops its marketing messages at the individual enterprise, it will sell short its potential. We believe that Docker’s ultimate value prop is that companies in specific industries can use Docker containers to make the industry’s business processes more agile in adapting quickly to changes in the business or regulatory environment.
Such as? The auto industry is undergoing a rapid transformation with great numbers of new sensors, navigation systems, driverless cars, other automated systems, GPS, entertainment, etc., built already (or soon) into automobiles by hundreds of sizeable companies that contribute to the vehicle in your driveway.
These will generate massive amounts of data, which is a Big Data issue, but also require huge amounts of new software code for applications to run the next-generation auto. Nor will all the code be compatible, given the number of contributors. Docker’s containerized applications could surely play here to address an industrywide problem beyond the ability of even the biggest auto brand to dictate.
As a model for Docker of industry focus, look no further than Pivotal. A larger and more mature company, Pivotal’s cloud-native platform Cloud Foundry, with its open source roots, aims to “transform how the world builds software.“
CEO Rob Mee expresses Pivotal’s vision: “Entire industries, from automotive to financial services to retail, are being disrupted. Pivotal brings a transformative approach to software development to help companies thrive in a disruptive world.”
To fulfill its promise, Docker must aspire to a similar vision. Yes, it will take time, especially if Docker tries to become a single source for all things Docker. But the industry vision is the right vision.