NewsDockerCon 2017

The view from DockerCon 2017


Docker unveiled some exciting new initiatives at their annual event, including a new program for containerizing legacy applications. By Swapnil Bhartiya

Docker hosted its annual DockerCon conference in Austin, Texas on April 17-20. I arrived on April 16 and headed for registration, hoping to avoid the long lines that would queue up on the first morning of the conference. In the evening, the organizers hosted a dinner for media and analysts, where we mingled with Docker executives and fellow journalists.

I woke up early the next morning and strolled to the venue, which was a 10-minute walk from the hotel. DockerCon is primarily a three-day event, but the first and second days are the main days of the event. Day 1 is dedicated to the community and developers, and Day 2 is dedicated to enterprise customers and partners.

According to Docker, the event includes over 150 speakers, 10+ sponsors, and over 5,500 attendees.

Day 1: The Community Day

On the first day, Solomon Hykes, the founder and CTO of Docker, talked about the new features of Docker, including multi-stage builds and desktop-to-cloud integration. The major highlight of the day was the announcement of two new open source projects: Moby Project and LinuxKit. With these two new projects, Docker continues the trend of opening up its technologies and making them modular, but also opening up the process that it uses to build its own products.

The Moby Project is more or less the Fedora of Docker. Moby is a place where Docker brings all the core components of the platform and works on them in a modular fashion, allowing the ecosystem to improve and letting users pick and choose components to build their own implementation of Docker. The Moby project is intended to support the Docker community. According to Hykes, "Docker is a citizen of this container ecosystem, and the only way for Docker to succeed is if the ecosystem succeeds." From now on, all code contributions to Docker will go through the Moby Project; it's now the upstream for Docker.

LinuxKit is the result of work Docker has done with companies like Microsoft to create specialized Docker editions. The company has open sourced the tools it has used to build specialized Linux subsystems, so that community users can build their own subsystems. Docker is planning to contribute LinuxKit to the Linux Foundation. Hykes open sourced LinuxKit on stage, ceremonially making the GitHub repo public.

The evening of the first day brought a big party for community members on Rainey Street.

Day 2: Enterprise Day

Ben Golub, then CEO of Docker, started off his keynote on Day 2 with the story of a complaint from an animal rights organization that criticized Docker for promoting animal abuse, because the logo shows a whale carrying containers. He stepped back through the history of Docker logos. (Unfortunately, almost all Docker logos involved some animal.)

From this walk through time, Golub segued to a new program called Modernize Traditional Applications (MTA). The program, which was developed in partnership with companies like Microsoft, helps companies containerize legacy Java and .NET applications that were written decades ago.

MTA goes beyond just helping companies modernize their legacy applications; it also trains engineers of the partner company so that they can better manage their containerized applications and adopt DevOps practices.

Docker teams gave a very impressive demo, where they modernized a legacy app (including a database) into containers in under a minute. What makes MTA really interesting is that it requires no refactoring of code; customers don't have to change a single line of code. Everything is automated and well tested.

Docker invited speakers from Visa and MetLife, two mission-critical, and quite old, companies with a massive number of legacy applications. The companies' representatives talked about how Docker containers are enabling them to modernize their applications, which were written decades ago, giving them the same advantages that 21st century companies like Uber have. MetLife's representative joked that, while Docker will be celebrating its fifth birthday next year, MetLife will be 150 years old.

During the event, Microsoft announced support for Linux containers on Windows Server. The Docker support is the direct result of the work Microsoft did around LinuxKit that allows for Hyper-V isolation technology to deliver Linux containers. Windows Server customers can now deploy over 900,000 containerized applications that are available on the Docker Hub.

Another big story was Oracle's support for containerized applications. Oracle put container versions of many of their traditional Oracle applications, including the database, in the Docker store. This move will also help with the MTA program, because companies can easily containerize traditional apps that use Oracle's products.


This year's DockerCon also included lots of technical sessions, training sessions, and workshops. Many of the leading IT companies were in attendance. My schedule was full of interviews with executives from Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat, SUSE, Mirantis, Cloud Foundry, Dell, and more.

Overall it was a great show. I felt like I was at the center of a revolution that's transforming the IT world. I look forward to attending the next DockerCon.