If there was ever a question about how Docker, the open source container virtualization company, planned to generate revenue from the enterprise market, it was answered this week. The company has rolled out a new platform, Docker Datacenter, as a commercial product for on-premise or private cloud container deployment.
Docker Datacenter, or DDC, is Docker's integrated Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) solution. It's designed as an easy-to-use platform that companies can deploy on their own infrastructure, or in a private cloud, to deploy a container environment quickly and manage it.
DDC doesn't do anything that companies couldn't previously implement on their own using freely available tools. But that's the point. The platform integrates different Docker components to provide a one-stop CaaS solution. With DDC, Docker hopes to lower the barrier for enterprises considering container adoption.
Subscriptions also include a commercial support plan from Docker. That's an important part of the company's pitch. "With a Docker Datacenter subscription, enterprises receive technical support directly from Docker engineering, not an open source forum," Docker says in promotional material for the new product.
For the container ecosystem more broadly, DDC spices things up in important ways. For one, it provides new competition for third-party integrated container solutions like Red Hat's Atomic Host and LXD from Canonical. Unlike Docker, those companies can't claim to have first-hand expertise with Docker containers, which means Docker has something of an edge in marketing DDC. (On the other hand, DDC lacks the broad container support of Atomic Host and LXD; unlike them, it's designed only for the Docker ecosystem.)
At the same time, DDC represents a key step forward for Docker compared to other open source container companies, especially CoreOS. The latter just debuted the first production-quality version of its container solution, Rocket (also known as rkt). But it has yet to introduce an enterprise-grade product like DDC that can generate a sustained revenue stream. CoreOS will likely get to that stage, but for now, DDC is another reminder of Docker's head start within the container ecosystem.