Docker Inc. Outlines Product Strategy

Docker Inc. today published a product road map that details how it intends to extend Docker Desktop and Docker Hub to create a vibrant cloud-native ecosystem.

Justin Graham, vice president of products for Docker Inc., says the goal is to provide development teams with a better sense of how the company’s product strategy will evolve in the wake of it selling its enterprise business to Mirantis.

As part of that strategy, Graham says Docker Inc. will be enhancing Docker Desktop to make it more accessible to a broader range of developers by extending the capabilities of both the Docker command-line interface (CLI) and Docker Desktop user interface, which are exposed via Docker Hub. Specifically, Docker Inc. wants to make it easier for developers to interact with upstream services such as registries and continuous integration (CI) platforms, Graham says.

The instance of Docker Desktop supported by Docker Inc. will be available as a subscription service consumed using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

Docker Hub, meanwhile, will be the vehicle through which all application components are managed, including containers, serverless functions, YAML files and the metadata these components generate, Graham notes. Docker Hub will also provide a range of pipeline options that can be constructed by developers or be invoked based on more opinionated abstractions defined by the company.

Finally, Docker, Inc. is reiterating its commitment to Compose, Engine and Notary tools, which can be consumed individually or as part of Docker Desktop.

While Docker Inc. focuses on the developer experience, Graham says IT teams should also expect to see the company expand its alliances and partnerships with providers of continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platforms. The challenge, of course, will be defining to what degree developers will prefer to rely on Docker Inc. for some or all of their CI requirements rather than on existing (CI/CD) platforms.

Of course, this all assumes Docker Inc. can generate revenue from the open source Docker Desktop tools. Previously, the company viewed Docker Desktop as a set of free tools that would eventually drive the adoption of an enterprise platform. With the rise of rival platforms based on Kubernetes, it became difficult for the company to distinguish itself from a host of competitors. Now that Mirantis has taken control of the Docker enterprise platform, it’s critical for Docker Inc. to create revenue streams from organizations that need to support development teams.

It remains to be seen whether that strategy will resonate with development teams. There are roughly 4 million developers employing Docker Desktop today, a major percentage of which also employ Docker Hub. It’s also estimated there are more than 18 million enterprise developers, so the opportunity to grow the Docker Desktop developer base is significant. However, many of those developers are already using tools that are increasingly being extended to include support for Docker containers, which means the incentive for development teams to give up tools they already know is declining. Of course, there are plenty of new teams emerging that have not standardized on any tool yet. The challenge facing Docker Inc. comes down to gaining new converts to Docker Desktop from as many potential recruits as possible.

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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