I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my first Dockercon this year in San Francisco. I wanted to write a thoughts I had while attending the conference.
1. The Marketing
Docker and other startups win this so well. Every logo is cute and the swag made for good things to take home to my kids. But seriously, the docker whale made out of legos, the docker plush toy distributed at the day 2 keynote, the lego docker kits, the stickers, the shirts! Wow! I think the work that the team has done is fantastic. When I compare that to the work we do at Cisco with a product called “Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud” I just shutter to think that we could do a lot better.
I want to call out especially the work that Laurel does for Docker. The design, the comics, everything just worked so well and thought this was by far the star of the show. She was even nice enough to respond to some questions I had on Twitter!
I will say this though. There were lots of booths stacked with flashy logos, cool T-shirts and stickers, but may have been more frosting than cake. I decided I needed to invent a product and call it Cisco Spud and make a cute potato logo and see if I could get some interest around here.
Microsoft’s demo was beyond impressive. If it works like it showed in the demo then this is something Microsoft developers can be really excited about. The demo showed a fully integrated solution of running Visual Studio on a Mac, then submitting through Microsofts own continuous integration deployment, all with containers. The demo then went on to show containers running in Azure. Microsoft’s booth was full of swag showing love for Linux via Docker containers. Good show by Microsoft!
I’ll add one more thing here: Microsoft said they were the number one contributor to Docker since last April. Now, why do you think that is? Pretty simple: Lots of Windows code. Its funny how you can spin something that is in your own self serving interest as something that is good for the community.
3. What are people paying for?
It was pretty obvious from this conference and from a previous talk given by Adrian Cockcroft of Battery Ventures at DockerCon EU that people are not willing to pay for middleware like Docker. I would extend that to say people don’t seem to be willing to pay for plumbing. There were several networking companies I spoke with including Weave Networks where they are basically giving away their open source networking stacks for people to use. That doesn’t bode well for a company like Cisco that makes its money on plumbing. So what are people paying for and what can we learn from DockerCon?
- Subscriptions to Enterprise versions of Free things. People are paying for subscription services and support like RedHat has shown. Docker introduced its commercial trusted registries for businesses. This is great for people who need a little hand holding and want a nice supported version of the Registry. Its not too hard for an organization to just spin one of these up themselves (as I showed in a previous blog post) but that is froth with security problems and cumbersome to secure. Consumption Economics FTW. But it seems the key is to launch a successful open source product and then offer the commercial support package.
- Logging & Analytics. As shown by Splunk and others people are still willing to pay to visualize the logs, data, and to manage all the overwhelming information. I thought this slide shown by Ben Golub was insightful for the enterprise. People are looking to harness big data, logging, analytics. I was surprised to see how high HortonWorks was in this. There were several visualization companies in the booths for which I’m sad I didn’t have time to talk to all of them.
- Cloud Platforms and Use based Services. This should be no surprise, but what was surprising were the number of talks I attended where Docker was used on Prem in customers own data centers. I was half expecting this conference to be an AWS love fest as well, but it wasn’t. With Azure’s show of containers in the marketplace and AWSs continued development of ECS we have a sure place that companies can make money: Offering a cloud platform where people can run these darn things!
Maybe there were other things you noticed there that people were willing to pay for? Not T-shirts! Those were given out as freely as the software!
4. The future of PaaS
I’ve been a strong proponent of how current PaaS platforms are doomed and already irrelevant. I think Cloud Foundry and OpenShift may have some relevance today, but I certainly see no need for them (yes, I’m myopic, yes, I lack vision, fine). Instead Containers provide the platform as a Service required. While several PaaS vendors were on site to show their open source wares, I just don’t get why I need it when I can just have a set of containers available and people can use those. This was further cemented by the demonstration of Docker’s Project Orca.
Orca made me quickly forget all of Microsoft’s shiny demos. This was what I was really expecting to see unveiled at DockerCon: The vCenter of Docker containers. While this is still in locked down mode, the demo was great. It had a lot of the features you’d want to be able to see where your containers are, what they’re running, etc. If there were a mode where users could login and then get a self service view of containers and what they can launch, this would be all you needed from a PaaS. Maybe that’s what OpenShift and Cloud Foundry do today with a lot of extra bloat, but I am expecting big things from this project as well as another monetization stream for Docker. As Scott Johnston said: “There’s got to be a commercial offering in here somewhere!” when announcing the commercial offerings, I suspect this one could eventually lead to even greater revenues.
I enjoyed the opening keynote presentation by Solomon Hykes best. He laid out 3 Goals and some subgoals while introducing various things you’ve probably already read about (appC, Docker Networking, etc. )
Goal 1: Program the Internet for the Next 5 years.
- Runtime: a container (Docker Engine)
- Package and Distribution (Docker Hub)
- Service Composition: (Docker Compose previously loved as Fig)
- Machine Management (Docker Machine)
- Clustering (Docker Swarm)
- Networking (Docker Network)
- Extensibility (Docker Plugins)
Goal 2: Focus on Infrastructure Plumbing
- Break up the Monolith that is Docker, introduced RunC (which is Docker Engine, which is only 5% of existing code)
- The Docker Plumbing project will take a long time, but will be useful. Make things using the Unix way: Small, simple, single purpose built tools.
- Docker Notary: Secure the plumbing. How can we do better downloads. I was sad to see this didn’t use the BlockChain method, but maybe that’s cause I’m too much of a BitCoin zealot.
Goal 3: Promote Open Standards
This part was great. This is where CoreOS and Docker kissed and made up on stage. I loved the idea of an open container project, and I loved how every titan and their spinoff was a logo on it lending their support.
runC is now the default container format, and I’m expecting big things as we move forward with it.
This was a really neat conference to attend. What I liked best, was talking to the strangers at some of the tables I dined at. I wished I could have done more of it. I’m not in it for the networking of people, but selfishly for the networking of ideas. I asked a lot of questions: Are you running a private registry? How are you securing it? are you running in production? What are you currently working on? What are you trying to solve?
It’s hard though, cause I’m not a complete extrovert. I’m more of an extroverted introvert. I’m also sad to say I didn’t do enough of it, and that will be my resolve for the next conference: Connect with more strangers!