Container clustering and orchestration over the last few years has become a core area of competition, with the open-source Kubernetes project that the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) now runs emerging to become a leading choice.
While in some respects Docker Inc. competes directly against Kubernetes, in many other respects it also helps to enable Kubernetes. Although there are other container runtimes, currently Docker is the most widely used and deployed. Docker Inc. is also a founding member of the CNCF.
Perhaps the biggest new piece in the Docker puzzle, as the project celebrates its fourth birthday, is the continued move toward standardization. While several Docker components early on looked to become de facto standards, there has been competition, notably from rival CoreOS. That rivalry originally led to the creation of the Open Container Initiative (OCI) in June 2015. The OCI effort today helps to define two container specifications, one for the runtime and the other for application images.
The OCI specifications, however, are relatively low-level, which led Docker to create the containerd project in December 2016 as a complete container runtime project that is based on the OCI specifications. Just last week, Docker Inc. announced that it will be moving the containerd project to the CNCF, the home of Kubernetes.
With containerd, Docker continues its effort to disaggregate the Docker Engine and create a very modular platform that is based on open standards. Docker Inc. is positioning itself to be able to both innovate on top of the open-source standards as well as enable others to use containerd, plug into it and grow the overall container ecosystem.
Just as was the case when Docker turned 1 year old, Docker at 4 years old is about much more than just Docker Inc. Certainly the continued evolution of the Docker Inc. business model and go-to-market partnerships are important, but so too is the overall competitive landscape. The growth of Kubernetes and the myriad vendors that support it are proof positive that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for containers. Competition and choice are good things, and are core to a true open-source model. Docker isn't the only player in the container space, nor should it be.
The last four years of Docker's history, from its rise as a nascent open-source project in 2013 to it becoming a core element of the DevOps movement and IT deployment plans in 2017, have been surprising to many. I recently asked Hykes what has surprised him most about his four-year journey with Docker.
"I'm endlessly surprised every day, and whenever we think it can't get any more surprising, we're wrong," Hykes told eWEEK. "We're trying to live up to expectations mostly."