March 24, 2017

Docker Inc. is starting to grow up in the enterprise. Via the creation of a Docker Enterprise Edition (Docker EE) of its runtime and management software for containers, Docker is trying to make it simpler for enterprise IT organizations to license a broad swath of its technologies versus having to set up a contract for each individual product and service.

Docker EE is being offered via three different options. There is basic edition for infrastructure certified by Docker; a standard edition that adds secure multi-tenancy with advanced image, container management, LDAP/AD user integration and Docker Datacenter; and an advanced edition includes Docker Security Scanning and continuous vulnerability monitoring delivered as a service.

As part of that effort, Docker will also certify implementation of Docker software to give IT organizations more confidence in the work done to implement Docker technologies, said Betty Junod, senior director of product marketing for Docker Inc. Those certifications span everything from how Docker software is deployed in a data center to how independent software vendors (ISVs) and IT infrastructure vendors are making use of Docker software within their offerings.

At the same time, Docker is providing access to a community edition that, Junod said, is aimed at making Docker software accessible to smaller IT and DevOps teams.

Finally, Docker has also expanded its IT infrastructure vendor partner list to include Cisco Systems, which will bundle Docker software with Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS). Docker already has a similar technology partnership agreement with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE).

In general, Docker is positioning itself to become more relevant to IT operations teams. While developers have enthusiastically embraced Docker containers as a mechanism to more efficiently package and deliver software components, IT operations teams have shown a marked preference for deploying containers on top of virtual machines. The reason for this is that most of them already have significant investments in management tools that are predicated on virtual machines. Tools for managing Docker containers on bare-metal servers are not only viewed as comparatively immature, in many cases IT organizations simply don’t want to go to the expense of acquiring and master dedicated container management tools when they still need to manage legacy applications.

It is, however, simply a matter of time before the IT infrastructure economics surrounding containers become too great to ignore. Today most organizations can run anywhere from 10 to 25 virtual machines per server. In contrast, they should be able to run well over 100 containers per physical machine. The density of the IT infrastructure environment has a direct impact on the total number of physical servers any organization needs to acquire and deploy.

Like most transitions in the data center, the shift to containers will undoubtedly take place over an extended amount of time. By making it simpler for IT organizations to consume its management software, Docker is clearly hoping that transition just might happen a whole lot faster than it might normally would without some additional economic incentive.

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.