March 24, 2017

Who’s making money off of Docker containers? That’s a question you’ll be hearing more and more as containers enter production environments. To help answer it, we prepared a roundup of the companies that are making the most money from Docker currently.

The list of companies profiting from Docker in a big way is still pretty small because Docker remains new. Yet, the mere fact that companies are now starting to cash in significantly on Docker is a sign of how far containers have come in the few short years since Docker’s debut in 2013.

Companies Profiting from Docker

Who are those companies? Here are the most significant names in the container business right now, from a revenue (or, in Microsoft’s case, potential revenue) standpoint:

  • Docker Inc. It should come as no surprise that Docker Inc., the company behind Docker development, is making money from containers. Exactly how much money Docker Inc. is making remains unclear, but it’s probably more than nothing. The company reported less than $10 million in revenue in 2015, when its valuation reached $1 billion. In early 2017, The Register thinks Docker is now making between $25 million and $50 million annually. We’ll probably never the precise numbers until Docker goes public. But it seems fair to say Docker Inc. is not sitting idly by as its container platform grows in financial importance.
  • Red Hat. The Register also notes that Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst says the company has made “over 50 OpenShift deals alone that were six or seven figures.” OpenShift is Red Hat’s integrated container platform, built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Kubernetes. The amount of money Red Hat is currently making from containers may be only a small part of its overall revenue, which is now in the $2 billion neighborhood, but that’s still a significant sum for a technology that remains quite new.
  • AWS. The AWS cloud’s Elastic Container Service, or ECS, isn’t the only option for running containers as a managed service. But I’d wager a bet that it’s the most popular one right now. While it’s unclear exactly how much money ECS is adding to the AWS bottom line, it’s no doubt more than a rounding error.
  • Microsoft. Microsoft is probably not making much, if any, money off of containers right now. But it has invested heavily in the container world by partnering with Docker to bring containers to Windows. When Docker for Windows matures, it could become a big cash cow for Microsoft—and a safeguard for the company’s server software business, which looked like it was falling behind the curve before Microsoft embraced containers.

This would be a much longer list if we included every company that is making any money from containers—or if it listed the numerous startups in the container space that hope one day to profit largely from containers but for the most part are still in growth mode right now.

Even from this short list, however, it’s clear that Docker has already become a money-maker. If you’re still wondering whether containers will turn out to be just a fad, this is your answer: No.

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.