Docker CEO Foresees Developer Tool Advances in 2020 and Beyond

Now that Docker Inc. has exited the enterprise platform business, newly appointed CEO Scott Johnston says a more frictionless approach to collaboratively building containerized applications is on the way.

After agreeing last month to sell its enterprise platform business to Mirantis, Docker Inc. shifted its focus to improving the developer experience. Johnston says Docker Inc.’s new focus will manifest itself next year in the form of tools that automate the configuration and packaging of entire applications along with extensions to Docker Hub to foster collaboration across application development teams.

Johnston says registries such as Docker Hub provide the equivalent of a “water cooler” where developers naturally tend to congregate. That presents Docker Inc. with an opportunity not only to reuse validated containers but also to configure containers by default and discover all the dependencies that might exist across a containerized application.

Longer-term, Johnston says IT teams should expect Docker Inc. to also invest in capabilities such as identifying artifacts that are complementary to containers already being employed by developers, as well as surfacing up new use cases from groups of related containers. In addition, a feedback loop from production environments should make it easier for developers to identify and remediate issues their applications may be experiencing in production environments, he says. To achieve these goals, Johnston says IT organizations should expect to see more metadata being attached to containers that will enable teams to inspect how that container has been performing in multiple environments.

Overall, the goal is to increase substantially the base of developers building containerized applications. Depending on how they are measured, Johnston says, there are somewhere between 2 and 4 million developers building applications using containers out of a potential pool of 10 to 15 million developers. The current rate at which containerized applications are being built is more a testament to the perseverance of the existing pool of developers than it is the current state of application development tooling for containers, says Johnston. The easier it becomes to build containerized applications, the faster the size of the developer ecosystem will grow to the benefit of every IT vendor providing a platform for deploying containers, he adds.

At the same time, Johnston notes that while it’s important to foster collaboration among development teams, individual developers will still prefer to construct applications on their PCs using Docker Desktop. The challenge and opportunity will be furthering the integration of Docker Desktop and Docker Hub to enable developers to work as flexibly as they like, he says.

Naturally, there’s some skepticism concerning whether a reconstructed Docker Inc. will have the resources required to advance the adoption of a more automated application development environment. There is no shortage of rivals with similar ambitions. The one thing those rivals lack, however, is a large following of developers who have already committed to Docker Desktop as their currently preferred tools for building containerized applications.

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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