Docker Hub Container Image Pulls Grew in 2020

Despite the global economic downturn that began with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic roughly a year ago, Docker Inc. is reporting that the number of Docker container pulls made from the Docker Hub repository increased 145% year over year in 2020. In the fourth quarter of 2020 alone, there were 30 billion pulls from Docker Hub.

Matt Carter, vice president of product and alliance marketing for Docker Inc., says that level of growth suggests developers are collaborating more than ever as pressure to deliver applications faster steadily increased in the last year. That pressure can be attributed to efforts to accelerate existing digital business transformation initiatives and the launching of new initiatives, notes Carter.

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Docker, Inc. also notes there are now more than 8.3 million repositories on DockerHub that are accessed by 7.3 million accounts. In addition, the company reports there are now 3.3 million installations of its Docker Desktop tool for building containerized applications.

Carter says one of the primary reasons usage of Docker Desktop continues to rise is that containers downloaded via DockerHub make it a lot easier for developers to build innovative applications. Many developers, even while working from home, are able to easily construct an application prototype on a local device without having to first set up dedicated infrastructure, he notes. That lack of friction encourages developers to experiment with application code in ways they previously might not have, simply because too much effort was required, Carter says.

Docker Inc. also expects DockerHub, and the certified container images it makes available on the platform, to play a much larger role in software supply chains, Carter says. In the wake of recent high-profile security breaches, it has become apparent that organizations must more closely monitor what container images are being used to construct their applications, he adds.

A Docker Official Image is curated by the original provider in collaboration with Docker Inc. There are today more than 160 such images in Docker Hub. The company identifies the most widely used Docker Official Images as being:

Busybox: an embedded distribution of Linux
Httpd: an Apache HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server
Alpine: a Linux distribution based on musl libc and BusyBox
Nginix: open source proxy software
Ubuntu: a distribution of Linux from Canonical
Redis: an in-memory database from Redis Labs
Postgres: an open source relational database compatible with Oracle
Node: an open source JavaScript runtime
Memcached: a distributed memory object caching system
Mongo: an open source document database

There are, of course, now multiple container registries that developers are being encouraged to employ, but Docker Hub remains the most widely used by a wide margin. It is not clear to what degree developers will confine their usage to officially curated container instances. There are, after all, thousands of container images that developers routinely assume are safe. Not surprisingly, some of those container images have malware hidden in them.

There’s no indication, though, that software supply chain concerns will result in reduced reliance on container images. However, the focus on container security in the weeks and months ahead will undoubtedly increase as scrutiny of software supply chains intensifies.

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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