Docker Inc. announced today that it has restructured the company to focus on application development tools and workflows and, as part of that move, has sold the Docker Enterprise platform business to Mirantis.
Mirantis CEO Adrian Ionel said the addition of a Docker Enterprise platform will accelerate the company’s effort to deliver its existing Kubernetes-as-a-service platform. The Docker Enterprise platform is currently being used by more than 700 customers, with one-fifth of those customers representing Global 500 companies.
As part of this acquisition, Mirantis gains ownership of the components of Docker Enterprise, including Docker Enterprise Engine, Docker Trusted Registry, Docker Unified Control Plane and Docker CLI.
Ionel says going forward, Mirantis will focus its efforts primarily on the instance of Docker Enterprise that runs on Kubernetes. However, based on customer input, Mirantis plans to support the version of Docker Enterprise that Docker Inc. developed on its own Docker Swarm orchestration engine for up to two years.
Mirantis also will endeavor to maintain the strategic alliances Docker Inc. has in place, most importantly with Microsoft. Docker has been working closely with Microsoft to make Docker containers a core component of the Windows operating system. Docker Inc. also has an IT services alliance with IBM in place. That may be more difficult to maintain, given the fact that in acquiring Docker Enterprise, Mirantis is now in direct competition with Red Hat, which IBM owns. In fact, Ionel says Red Hat and VMware collectively now represent the company’s two largest competitors.
Ionel notes that Mirantis also remains committed to OpenStack and it intends to deliver a more efficient instance of the cloud management framework that can be deployed on top of Kubernetes.
In the last decade Docker containers have transformed the IT landscape. Docker containers were created as part of an internal project within dotCloud, and Docker Inc. was launched in 2011 by Solomon Hykes and Sebastien Pahl. The company was poised to leverage Docker’s initial success by developing a container-as-a-service (CaaS) environment on top of a proprietary Docker Swarm container orchestration engine. The business plan was upended by the arrival of the open source Kubernetes container orchestration engine developed by Google, which has been broadly embraced by rivals. Two years ago, Docker Inc. followed suit, but not before Red Hat and others started gaining share at the company’s expense.
Eventually, Hykes left Docker, followed shortly thereafter by CEO Ben Golub, who was replaced by Steve Singh. Less than two years after being appointed, Singh was replaced by Rob Bearden. Earlier this year a memo was leaked indicating Docker Inc. needed additional financing. Today the company announced that Scott Johnston will replace Bearden as CEO.
Docker Inc. may not have lived up to its initial promise, but there’s no doubt Docker containers will be remembered as one of the most transformative technologies in IT history. The challenge and the opportunity now will be to see just how far IT organizations will employ Docker containers to modernize change how applications are built and deployed, today and well into the next decade.