I have been a Docker fan since almost day 1, working for a company that packaged its project to work in containers early-on, writing many blog posts on usage and related tooling, attending meetups here in Berlin and contributing to two code sprints as a mentor. Late last year I gave a talk at LinuxCon in Berlin to see Solomon Hykes (Founder) sat in the front row, a nerve-racking delight.
I spent about 7 years developing for and implementing Drupal, and the nature of its complex, the interweaving stack was a constant source of “works on my machine” responses and problems. I initially used options such as MAMP/WAMP or Vagrant, which worked fine but were slow and space hungry. Then along came Docker, and not only offered a better solution to my problem but many others, including ones we didn’t even know yet.
Docker started as a venture-backed open source project and has been a classic example and use case of the struggle that can come from monetizing open source.
In recent months Docker has attempted to differentiate its community and enterprise editions, with a mixture of success. The plan is largely a good one, offering an open source core with reasonably easy-to-use tools for development, or for those who know what they’re doing but offer a supported, one-click install for a selection of hosting platforms. Supplementing this change is an ‘app’ store for 3rd party containers that offer commercial levels of operation and support. Docker confused the process by adding a new name into the mix, the ‘moby project’, which many are still struggling to understand. The moby project is a set of components that Docker will use to build Docker, but others can also use for their related projects. It’s possibly an attempt to stop the continuing development of new (competing) container systems despite efforts to standardize, as even though nearly every competitor is open source, they are chipping away at Dockers (commercial) market share.
Some are saying that this increased pressure from its own open source ecosystem and similar projects and driving this need for change. But in my mind, it’s never been easy to monetize open source developer tools and maybe Docker are yet another example that shows no matter how popular you become, developers are a fickle bunch who are hard to convince of your value and swift to change to something new and shiny.
Sometimes a change of plan needs a change of leadership, and after four years at the top, Docker CEO, Ben Golub is being replaced by Steve Singh. Singh moves from SAP, and a strong enterprise experience, so whether you like Dockers new direction or not, he’s likely the right man at the right time.