Docker Inc. Outlines Research Priorities

At its DockerCon 2019 conference, Docker Inc. revealed a series of initiatives aimed at increasing adoption of its container platform, including plans to make that platform available as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering aimed at small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and small departments within larger enterprises.

Docker CEO Steve Singh says making a version of the Docker container platform that is optimized to meet the requirements of smaller entities represents the next logical progression for a platform that so far has been adopted by 750-plus enterprise IT customers.

At the same time, Docker Inc. this week also pledged to add support for the open source Istio service mesh within the Docker Enterprise 3.0 platform, which the company unveiled this week. Much like any module within Docker Enterprise 3.0, Istio can be swapped out for another service mesh in much the same way Docker Inc. today provides support for both Docker Swarm and Kubernetes container orchestration engines, Singh says. But the company now sees service meshes as offering enough value, by providing a control plane to manage microservices, to make Istio a core part of the Docker Enterprise platform. Initially, Docker Inc. will provide support for Istio ingress controllers before adding full support for Istio and the Envoy proxy server on which Istio is based.

Additional projects Docker, Inc. is working on include:

  • A platform-agnostic approach to invoking the encryption capabilities provided by hardware-based approaches to encryption such as the Trusted Platform Module (TPM).
  • A Build X initiative that extends Docker Inc.’s Build Kit tools to create a single code base that can then be deployed on multiple platforms.
  • An effort dubbed Jump that will make it easier for developers to launch test environments directly from with the Docker Desktop application development environment.
  • An extension to the Modernize Traditional Applications (MTA) initiative under which Docker Inc. now will also provide services and support for building greenfield containerized applications. Previously, the company’s efforts were limited to helping enterprise IT organizations modernize existing legacy applications by embedding them in containers that could be more easily moved to the cloud without any need to refactor the application.

In addition to those initiatives, Docker Inc. is working on improving the high-availability capabilities of its tools and platforms; providing deeper support for containerd, a subset of Docker Engine that systems builders would employ to add support for containers in an embedded system; and collaborating with Arm to advance internet of things (IoT) application development.

In the wake of a disclosure of a cybersecurity breach affecting Docker Hub, a repository for container images managed by Docker Inc., Singh says the company also will intensify its efforts to make sure all its offerings are “secure by design” as part of its core engineering principles.

All these initiatives, to varying degrees, are extensions to the Docker Enterprise 3.0 platform. That offering, however, is not due to be generally available until the second half of 2019, so it’s not clear when any of these extensions will be available.

In the meantime, Singh says IT organizations should expect Docker Inc. to be singularly focused on eliminating the divide between developers and IT operations teams via a highly integrated platform that serves to give developers more control over DevOps processes. The biggest challenge Docker Inc. may face now isn’t so much what rivals are doing, but rather how far its platform is ahead of organizations’ ability to re-engineer the processes required to employ it.

Mike Vizard

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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