Docker: The Open Source Container Start-Up Google Wants to Know

An open platform toolkit for developers of distributed apps has seen tech giants Dell, HP, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and VMware clamour to join forces.

The past few months have seen tech giants Dell, HP, Google, Red Hat Enterprise, IBM, Microsoft, and VMware clamour to join forces with a start-up called Docker. Amazon has now also announced it will be supporting Docker too. So what is this small start-up that is giving away its software for free?

What Does Docker Do?

Developers are building applications not just to work on a desktop, but to run anywhere on any machine. The next Uber app will need to run successfully and simultaneously across numerous machines. Until this point, developers have been coming up with their own way to solve the problem, each running their apps a different way. That was until Docker launched, offering an open platform toolkit for developers and system admins to build, ship, and run distributed applications.

Enabling apps to be assembled quickly and easily from components, the Docker software is based on containers: wrapping each piece of app into a container, it allows developers to isolate their apps from any others apps operating on the same host server, and therefore allows them to change containers without changing the piece of an app. The containers automatically adjust so all the parts of an app can work together. Docker is essentially one giant computer cloud service that can run any application that comes its way on numerous machines.

With the Docker software, developers can build higher-quality and faster applications which can run on any infrastructure, quickly and reliably. Ben Golub, CEO of the company comments: “I think Docker in a smaller way is enabling developers to be able to put all their energy into creating amazing applications, rather than worrying about the minutiae of how they are going to run and how they are going to scale and it is a beautiful thing”.

$55 million in Funding

Like most open source companies, Docker will earn money through extras: offering commercial support, providing tools to manage and monitor apps, and running paid subscriptions for special services, that, for example, offer training. And so far Docker has raised $55 million from several top tier VCs against a valuation of $400 million. Yahoo founder Jerry Yang has also invested and joined Docker’s board.

The company’s popularity is wild: there are over 700 developers voluntarily working on Docker software and it has 128 user groups in 43 countries. It has now been downloaded over 50 million times; there are 15,000 third-party projects on GitHub using it; and Spotify, eBay, Cloudflare, Yandex, Cambridge Healthcare, and Yelp are all clients. Impressive for a company with 42 employees that started life in the basement of 31-year-old founder Solomon Hykes’ mother’s Parisian basement.

Docker is certainly on its way to being a formidable software company, not just a start-up which has seen some good luck.

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