Thursday, July 7, 2016

Can Docker Become the Dominant Port Authority for Workloads Between Cloud?


If you think these little snippets of Linux source code might have limited revenue-bearing potential given the fact that anyone can activate them on an open source basis, then you might want to consider DockerCon 2016, which was held June 19-20 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.  DockerCon is an annual technology conference for Docker Inc., the much touted San Francisco-based start-up that developed and popularized Docker runtime Linux containers, which are no longer proprietary but hosted as an open source project under the Linux Foundation.  Docker Inc. (the company) is among the rarified “unicorns” of Silicon Valley – start-ups with valuations exceeding $1 billion based on a really hot idea, but with nascent business models and perhaps limited revenue streams at this stage of their development.



Even with a conference ticket price of $990, DockerCon 2016 in Seattle was completely sold out.  Over 4,000 attendees showed up and there was a substantial waiting list. For comparison, last year, DockerCon in San Francisco had about 2,000 people. The inaugural DockerCon event in 2014 was attended by about 500 people. The conference featured company keynotes, technology demonstrations, customer testimonials, and an exhibition area with dozens of vendors rushing into this space. Big companies exhibiting at DockerCon included Microsoft, IBM, AWS, Cisco, NetApp, HPE and EMC.
 
Punching way above its size, Docker rented Seattle's Space Needle and EMP museum complex to feed and entertain all 4,000+ guests on the evening of the summer solstice.  

Clearly, Docker’s investors are making a big bet that the company grow from being the inventor of an open source standard.

Why should the networking and telecom community care about a new virtualization format at the OS level?

There is a game plan afoot to put Docker at the crossroads of application virtualization, cyber security, service orchestration, and cloud connectivity.  Docker enables applications to be packed into a standard shipping container, enabling software contained within to run the same regardless of the underlying infrastructure. Compared with virtual machines (VMs), containers launch quicker.  The container includes the application and all of its dependencies.  However, containers make better use of the underlying servers because they share the kernel with other containers, running as isolated processes in user space on the host operating system.  The vision is to allow these shipping containers to move easily between servers or between private and public clouds.  As such, by controlling the movement of containers, you essentially control the movement of workloads locally and across the wide area network. The applications running within containers need to remain securely connected to data and processing resources from wherever the container may be located. Thus, software-defined networking becomes part of the containerization paradigm. Not surprisingly, we are seeing a lot of Silicon Valley’s networking talent move from the established hardware vendors in San Jose to the new generation of software start-ups in San Francisco, as exemplified by Docker Inc.
 
The Timeline of Significant Events for Docker

Docker was started by Solomon Hykes as an internal project at dotCloud, a platform-as-a-service company based in France and founded around 2011. The initial Docker work appears to have started around 2012/3 and the project soon grew to become the major focus of the company, which adopted the Docker name.  The official launch of Docker occurred on March 13, 2013 in a presentation by Solomon Hykes entitled “The Future of Linux Containers” hosted at the PyCon industry conference.  Soon after, the Docket whale icon was posted and a developer community began to form.

In May 2013, dotCloud hired Ben Golub as CEO with a goal of restructuring from the PaaS business to the huge opportunity it now saw in building and orchestrating cloud containers. Previously, Golub was CEO of Gluster, another open source software company but which focused on scale-out storage.  Gluster offered an open-source software-based network-attached filesystem that could be installed on commodity hardware.  The Silicon Valley company successfully raised venture funding, grew its customer based quickly, and was acquired by Red Hat in 2011. 

Within 3 months of joining Docker, Golub established an alliance with Red Hat. A second round of venture funding, led by Greylock Partners, brought in $15 million. Headquarter were moved to San Francisco.  In June 2014, Docker 1.0 was officially released, marking an important milestone for the project.

In August 2014, Docker sold off its original dotCloud (PaaS) business to Berlin-based cloudControl, however, the operation was shut down earlier this year after a two-year struggle. Other dotCloud engineers credited with work on the initial project include Andrea Luzzardi and Francois-Xavier Bourlet. A month later, in September 2014, Docker secured $40 million in a series C funding round that was led by Sequoia Capital and included existing investors Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Insight Ventures, Trinity Ventures, and Jerry Yang.  

In October 2014, Microsoft announced integration of the Docker engine into its upcoming Windows Server release, and native support for the Docker client role in Windows.  In December 2014, IBM announced a strategic partnership with Docker to integrate the container paradigm into the IBM Cloud.  A year and a half later, in June 2015, IBM's Bluemix platform-as-a-service began supporting Docker containers. IBM Bluemix also supports Cloud Foundry and OpenStack as key tools for designing portable distributed applications. Additionally, IBM claims the industry's best performance of Java on Docker. IBM Java is optimized to be two times faster and occupies half the memory when used with the IBM Containers Service. Moreover, as a Docker based service, IBM Containers include open features and interfaces such as the new Docker Compose orchestration services.

In March 2015, Docker acquired SocketPlane, a start-up focused on Docker-native software defined networking. SocketPlane had only been founded a few months earlier by Madhu Venugopal, who previously worked on SDN and OpenDaylight while at Cisco Systems, before joining Red Hat as Senior Principal Software Engineer.  These SDN capabilities are now being integrated into Docker.

In April 2015, Docker raised $95 million in a Series D round of funding led by Insight Venture Partners with new contributions from Coatue, Goldman Sachs and Northern Trust. Existing investors Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, Trinity Ventures and Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures also participated in the round.

In October 2015, Docker acquired Tutum, a start-up based in New York City. Tutum developed a cloud service that helps IT teams to automate their workflows when building, shipping or running distributed applications. Tutum launched its service in October 2013. 

In November 2015, Docker extended is Series D funding round by adding $18 million in new investment.  This brings total funding for Docker to $180 million.

In January 2016, Docker acquired Unikernel Systems, a start-up focused on unikernel development, for an undisclosed sum. Unikernel Systems, which was based in Cambridge, UK, was founded by pioneers from Xen, the open-source virtualization platform. Unikernels are defined by the company as specialized, single-address-space machine images constructed by using library operating systems. The idea is to reduce complexity by compiling source code into a custom operating system that includes only the functionality required by the application logic. The unikernel technology, including orchestration and networking, is expected to be integrated with the Docker runtime, enabling users to choose how they ‘containerize’ and manage their application - from the data center to the cloud to the Internet of Things.

Finally, at this year’s DockerCon conference, Docker announced that it will add built-in orchestration capabilities to it Docker Engine.  This will enable IT managers to form a self-organizing, self-healing pool of machines on which to run multi-container distributed applications – both traditional apps and microservices – at scale in production. Specifically, Docker 1.12 will offer an optional “Swarm mode” feature that users can select to “turn on” built-in orchestration, or they can also elect to use either their own custom tooling or third-party orchestrators that run on Docker Engine. The upcoming Docker 1.12 release simplifies the process of creating groups of Docker Engines, also known as swarms, which are now backed by automated service discovery and a built-in distributed datastore. The company said that unlike other systems, the swarm itself has no single point of failure. The state of all services is replicated in real time across a group of managers so containers can be rescheduled after any node failure. Docker orchestration includes a unique in-memory caching layer that maintains state of the entire swarm, providing a non-blocking architecture which assures scheduling performance even during peak times. The new orchestration capabilities go above and beyond Kubernetes

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