Docker’s Next Chapter: Our First Year

Scott Johnston

Oct 27 2020

2020 has been quite the year. Pandemic, lockdowns, virtual conferences and back-to-back Zoom meetings. Global economic pressures, confinement and webcams aside, we at Docker have been focused on delivering what we set out to do when we announced Docker’s Next Chapter: Advancing Developer Workflows for Modern Apps last November 2019. I wish to thank the Docker team for their “can do!” spirit and efforts throughout this unprecedented year, as well as our community, our Docker Captains, our ecosystem partners, and our customers for their non-stop enthusiasm and support. We could not have had the year we had without you.

This next chapter is being jointly written with you, the developer, as so much of our motivation and inspiration comes from your sharing with us how you’re using Docker. Consider the Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM): WUSM’s team of bioinformatics developers uses Docker to build pipelines – consisting of up to 25 Docker images in some cases – for analyzing the genome sequence data of cancer patients to inform diagnosis and treatments. Furthermore, they collaborate with each other internally and with other cancer research institutions by sharing their Docker images through Docker Hub. In the words of WUSM’s Dr. Chris Miller, this collaboration “helps to accelerate science and medicine globally.”

WUSM is but one of the many examples we’ve heard this last year of Docker’s role in simplifying and accelerating how development teams build, share, and run modern apps. This inspires us to make the development of modern apps even simpler, to offer even more choices in app stacks and tools, and to help you move even faster.

Early indicators suggest we’re on the right path. There’s been a significant increase in Docker usage this past year as more and more developers embrace Docker to build, share, and run modern applications. Specifically, 11.3 million monthly active users sharing apps from 7.9 million Docker Hub repositories at a rate of 13.6 billion pulls per month – up 70% year-over-year. Furthermore, in May the 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey of 65,000 developers resulted in Docker as the #1 most wanted, the #2 most loved, and the #3 most popular platform.

One of the reasons for this growth is that Docker offers choice to developers by integrating with best-of-breed tools and services. This past year, the industry’s largest cloud providers – AWS and Microsoft – partnered with Docker to create fast, friction-free “code-to-cloud” automations for developers. We partnered with Snyk to “shift left” security and make it a natural part of a developer’s inner loop as well as to secure Docker Official Images and Docker Certified Images. And to help development teams further automate their pipelines, this year we shipped our own Docker GitHub Action. We’ll be sharing more in the months to come on how Docker and its ecosystem partners are working together to bring more choices to developers so watch this space. 

Sustainable Community, Code, & Company

The sustainability of open source businesses is often a topic of discussion. Docker isn’t immune to economic realities, and this past year we’ve focused on the sustainability of the community, code, and company. For the community, we’ve made investments to make it even more accessible, including virtual DockerCon which attracted 80,000 attendees from around the world. For the code, to ensure we can effectively engage and support we’ve intentionally aligned our open source efforts around projects relevant to developers, including BuildKit, Notary, OCI, the Docker GitHub Action, the Compose spec, and our Compose integrations with cloud providers.

For the company, achieving sustainability has been a multi-step process with the objective of continuing to offer all developers 100% free build, share, run tools and, as they scale their use, to provide compelling value in our subscriptions. First, we introduced per-seat pricing to make our subscriptions easier to understand for developers and development teams. Then we introduced annual purchasing options which offer discounts for longer-term commitments. More recently, we announced establishing upper limits on ‘docker pulls’ as the first step in our move toward usage-based pricing. This ensures we scale sustainably while continuing to offer 100% free build, share, and run tools to the tens of millions more developers joining the Docker community.

What’s Next?

As busy as our first year has been, we’re looking forward to working with our developer community in the coming year to deliver more great tools and integrations that help development teams build, share, and run modern apps. In fact, you’ve already given us plenty of great ideas and feedback in our public roadmap on GitHub – keep ‘em comin’. To prioritize and focus our efforts, our guiding questions continue to be:

“Does this feature simplify for the development team the complexity of building, sharing, and running a modern app?”

“Does this offer the development team more choice in terms of app stack technologies and/or pipeline tools – without introducing complexity?”

“Does this help a development team iterate more quickly and accelerate the delivery of their application?”

With that, here’s a sneak peek of what to look for in our second year:

App Dev Environments – To help teams get up-and-running quickly with new projects, expect more prescriptive development environments and pipeline tools in a “batteries included, but swappable” approach. You’ve maybe already seen our early hints around this for Go, Python, and Node.js – more to come.

Container Image Management Expect more visibility and more tools for development teams to proactively manage their images.

Pipeline Automation –  Our GitHub- and Atlassian BitBucket-integrated autobuilds service and our Docker GitHub Action are loved by many of you, but you also have other favorite build and CI tools you’d like to see more tightly integrated. Stay tuned.

Collaboration –  Getting an app from code-to-cloud is a team effort. The more effortlessly a team can share – code, images, context, automation, and more – the faster they can ship. Docker Compose has already proven its value for development team collaboration; look for us to build on its success.

Content – Developers have already voted with their pulls – Docker Official Images are by far the most popular category of images pulled. Why? Because development teams trust them as the basis for their modern apps. In the coming year, look for additional breadth and depth of trusted content to be made available. This includes apps from ISVs distributing Docker Certified Images as Docker Verified Publishers. In fact, this program already recognizes more than 90 ISVs, with more joining every day.

As we look forward to 2021 – hopefully a year that frees us to meet safely together in person again – Docker remains committed to providing a collaborative application development platform to help teams build, share, and run modern apps that transform their organizations. The Docker team is thankful that we’re on this journey together with our community members, contributors, ecosystem partners, and customers – let’s have a great year!