March 29, 2017

If you think Docker containers will kill virtual machines, think again. Here’s a look at how VMware is adapting to remain relevant in the Docker age.

In theory, Docker provides some crucial advantages over virtual machines. Docker containers leave lighter footprints than virtual machines. They are more platform-agnostic. They offer better performance in certain respects.

VMware and Docker

But that doesn’t mean VMware is sitting idly by, waiting for containers to kill its business. The company is instead bricking containers into its enterprise virtualization offerings by developing a platform for hosting Docker containers called vSphere Integrated Containers, or VIC.

VIC is more or less a containers-as-a-service (CaaS) platform that integrates Docker with VMware virtual machines for hosting, a container management tool called Admiral and an image registry named Harbor.

You could get all of these components from other CaaS platforms. Or you could build a Docker stack yourself using open-source parts. Technologically speaking, there are no killer features that sets VIC apart from the rest of the crowd.

But VMware is clearly hoping that VIC will ride the enterprise momentum the company has established over the past 15 years. Companies that have been longtime VMware customers might see VIC as the best tool for containerizing their infrastructure. If so, VMware wins, because its virtual machines will power the new container stacks that companies implement.

Embracing the Docker Revolution

Banking on customers to use your container platform simply because they already use your virtualization solutions might seem like a less-than-brilliant business strategy. But it actually reflects forward-thinking on VMware’s part. Rather than trying to fight against the Docker tide, the company is embracing it. That’s a much smarter move than the ones other tech companies have made when faced with next-generation technology that competes with their products.

Take Microsoft, for example. When Linux began eating into its server market share in the late 1990s, Microsoft spent a decade, and billions of dollars, trying to discredit Linux and open source software in general. It failed. Ultimately, Microsoft made an about-face starting about two years ago, when it declared its “love” for Linux and began releasing its own open-source solutions.

So, kudos to VMware for recognizing that Docker is here to stay, and that adaptation is the key to thriving in the new Dockerized world.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.