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When your first hear about Docker containers, you might think that server density is all it’s good for. After all, you can usually fit 10–100 times as many containers on a server than virtual machines. But server-density techniques have been used by savvy system administrators for more tha 10 years with Solaris Zones and BSD Jails.

Docker isn’t just a major technological advancement. It has serious business repercussions as well. So how are savvy cutting-edge business people using Docker to grow their business today?

Using Docker to understand your per-user costs

Many software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses have a very difficult time figuring out their per-user cost of goods sold. When you are a small SaaS business, this is not a problem because you can simply average it out to get an estimated cost per user. But as you grow, it becomes increasingly important to become more fine-grained about these numbers in order to identify fraud, abuse, and even upselling opportunities.

Because Docker is more lightweight than and faster to use than virtual machines, and can even be used on top of virtual machines, you can use it to start separating users’ application instances from each other.

Separated user instances can allow you to meter user consumption in a more service-oriented way without being cost-prohibitive. Trying to reproduce this kind of isolation with separated virtual machines for businesses already in the cloud would usually not only be overkill, but also prohibitively expensive.

Because Docker containers share a Linux kernel, the higher density allows you to rethink how to architect applications that your chief financial officer will thank you for.

Using Docker for recruiting and employee retention

Top engineering talent is increasingly rare and difficult to retain. To make matters worse, developers and operations teams have never traditionally got along very well. Even with new devops technologies like Puppet and Chef, often it is the operations teams who enjoy using them more than the developers.

Docker is the first devops tool that is as popular with developers as it is with ops people. That’s because the developers can work freely inside the containers while the operations team works outside the container and stitches them together. This creates a decoupled buffer zone of harmony.

According to Monster, Inc., and Forbes, traditional recruiting and retention strategies aren’t working anymore. Companies must think outside of the box by embracing new technologies that their employees feel are cool to work with and encourage workplace happiness and harmony. Docker’s devops bridge-building capabilities should be looked at as a great tool for recruiting and retention.

These are just a couple examples of how Docker can be used in surprising ways. Docker is changing the technology landscape faster than anyone could have predicted and it has only been less than two years! What clever ways are you seeing Docker being adopted in new and interesting ways?

Lucas Carlson is the chief innovation officer of CenturyLink, a global cloud, hosting, network and telecommunications provider. He publishes weekly Docker advice, tutorials, and open source software like Panamax (Docker management for humans) in the CenturyLink Labs blog.


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