Docker pushes further into the enterprise with new features


This week Docker unveiled a series of new capabilities for its tools that are aimed at attracting enterprise interest as the company continues to evolve.

Modernizing application development and deployment using software containers is a key part of enterprise agility. Containers provide an isolated and portable execution environment that helps developers more rapidly build scalable applications and meet the needs of today’s digital business environment. Docker is using its position at the forefront of that movement to sell enterprise-grade software and services.

Docker’s tools are part of a universe of open source and proprietary software that allow enterprise developers to increase agility by abstracting out the underlying infrastructure needed to run their applications. Companies that combine those capabilities with DevOps practices will be able to move faster and more readily improve their capabilities, which is necessary for companies to keep up with customers’ needs.

Wednesday the company announced a new federated application management feature for Docker Enterprise Edition, which allows companies to deploy applications to private cloud infrastructure, public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service and cloud managed Kubernetes services like Azure Kubernetes Service and AWS Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes.

In addition, Docker Enterprise Edition will gain support for managing Windows containers using Kubernetes, thanks to a collaboration between the company and Microsoft. The fruits of that work will also accrue to the Kubernetes open source project, so other organizations can benefit. Finally, Docker Desktop will let companies design templates, giving enterprise users an easier way to create containerized applications that integrate with other services through a graphical user interface.

Docker’s path into the enterprise

Docker’s developer mindshare and tooling gives it a strong foundation when selling software to enterprises. The company has more than 500 customers for its Enterprise Edition product, including high-profile clients like Halliburton, Merck, Liberty Mutual, Lockheed Martin and McKesson. The company has seen rapidly increasing revenue over the past two years as it pushes deeper into large business clients.

Docker Desktop now makes it simple for individual developers to set up Kubernetes on their personal machines, something that could help drive further bottom-up adoption of the company’s technology.

It is also working with a large partner network including Cognizant, Avanade and Accenture to get its tools and services out to enterprises and integrated into their business processes. In addition, Docker’s partnerships with cloud providers like Microsoft provide it with new enterprise leads. The company hired Concur cofounder and former SAP executive Steve Singh as its CEO last year and his significant expertise with building and selling enterprise software is already making its mark.building and selling enterprise software.

Docker argues one of its key differentiators is that its software is agnostic to operating systems and cloud platforms. That independence means it does not prioritize any single provider’s technology, which is important for enterprise customers who want to work across multiple clouds as well as their existing private datacenters. The announcements it made this week are aimed at deepening those capabilities.

Future considerations

Enterprises should realize that Docker may not remain independent. The company quietly raised roughly $68 million last year, reportedly at a $1.3 billion valuation. It will be under a great deal of pressure to deliver a return on the roughly $243 million it raised thus far, and will have to navigate the competitive landscape where developer technology companies often become acquisition fodder. Consider the case of GitHub, one of the high fliers in the developer tooling space, which Microsoft plans to acquire in a deal worth $7.5 billion.

There are other companies like Pivotal, RedHat and Atlassian that exist as public companies, and Docker could be on track to follow in their footsteps. The container management space has seen a slew of acquisitions, including Microsoft buying Deis, RedHat buying CoreOS and Oracle buying StackEngine. Docker would seem to be a juicy acquisition target for tech industry titans, so it will have to beat the odds to stay true to its pledged independence.

Or perhaps an acquisition wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world for enterprises that want Docker to maintain an independent approach to building container management tools. Like the GitHub acquisition, any potential acquirer for Docker would be best served to maintain its cross-platform capabilities.

In the meantime, Docker will be one of the players to watch when it comes to improving enterprise agility through transforming the development process. The company’s current direction shows it is serious about building more business with large customers and understands the needs of an enterprise audience.