Docker Inc. CEO Lays Out Strategy

Docker Inc. CEO Steve Singh says his company’s singular focus on enabling IT organizations to lift and shift legacy applications into the cloud is starting to pay dividends. Docker Inc. is experiencing triple-digit growth in booking that soon should, for the first-time, result in revenues exceeding $100 million and the company becoming cash flow-positive.

Speaking at DockerCon, Singh noted much of Docker Inc.’s growth has been driven via its Modernize Traditional Applications (MTA) initiative launched last year, which focuses squarely on global 10,000 companies looking to move legacy applications into the cloud by encapsulating them in Docker containers rather than refactoring them to run on a different type of virtual machine.

That effort is also creating a relationship under which many of those companies are adopting the Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) container-as-service (CaaS) environment for building microservices-based applications based on containers.

Eventually, those applications will span everything from the cloud to the network edge, which Singh says Docker Inc. is uniquely positioned to help organizations build, deploy and manage across a unified DevOps experience.

Most of the revenues Docker Inc. is generating are the result of a major investment in direct sales, says Singh, with the company seeing the most success in the insurance, finance and oil and gas industries.

Overall, Docker Inc. claims that in the last year, more than a million developers have signed up to use Docker Desktop tools to build applications and more than a million applications have been spun up on Docker Hub. The company also claims that more than a billion Docker containers are downloaded every two weeks for a total of 50 billion. Not all that activity generates revenue for the company, but it does create an opportunity, Singh notes, adding Docker Inc. expects another million developers to start using its desktop tools to build applications.

Singh, who is celebrating his first anniversary as CEO, identifies Red Hat and Pivotal Software, an arm of Dell Technologies, as Docker Inc.’s primary competitors. Both provide platform-as-service (PaaS) environments, but which Docker Inc. contends are too heavy to support truly agile programming. The Pivotal PaaS is based on open source software developed under the auspices of The Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF), and Singh notes Pivotal only has about 500 customers, which suggests the gap between it and Docker Inc. is hardly insurmountable.

Red Hat, meanwhile, has aggressively embraced Kubernetes as the foundation for its PaaS, a move Red Hat contends renders moot the PaaS-versus-CaaS debate.

Docker Inc. last year decided that, given all the momentum behind open source Kubernetes software, it would support both Kubernetes and Docker Swarm, its proprietary container orchestration engine. Docker Inc. will continue to invest in Docker Swarm because it provides an alternative container orchestration platform that is much easier to use than Kubernetes, Singh says. Not too long after that decision was made, Solomon Hykes—who is credited with inventing Docker containers—resigned his position as CTO.

Singh says Docker Inc. will continue to invest in a mix of open source and proprietary software to drive revenue, noting that if all software becomes open source, there won’t be enough revenue to drive innovation, because most of the people working on open source software projects are funded by companies. That said, companies can rely on REST application programming interfaces (APIs) to avoid becoming locked into any piece of software, he says.

Looking ahead, Singh predicts the Docker phenomenon will go global over the next four years, driving an unprecedented amount of innovation that Docker Inc. is hoping will drive consumption of both its licensed software and add-on services.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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