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Docker just raised a $95 million Series D round, and Docker board member Jerry Chen declared a new era of developer-defined infrastructure. Alongside the $100 million Series A raised by GitHub, Docker is a part of a new hope that developers can define just about anything.

What kind of vessel is Docker?

In his Discourse cloud infrastructure blog post, Michael Brown calls Docker a Tie Fighter, because “They are small, fast, identical — and there are lots of them.” Yes, Docker boots in microseconds. But it is definitely not a Tie Fighter. But Docker is a container ship, and it is not part of the Empire — Docker is part of the Rebel Alliance.

Docker helps you fight the Empire

What Rebel Alliance? Since the mainframe, developers have wanted freedom and variation, whereas central IT wants control for cost containment, security, predictability, maintainability, and so on. Hence the enterprise standard all-Oracle stack, from dev tools to database.

Docker is a smuggling ship

Docker empowers developers to flip the bird to the Oracle stack and deploy exotic polyglot stacks from Go, Erlang, Rust, and F# to Haskell monads. Docker can hide their stacks inside Docker smuggling compartments, and using Jedi Mind Tricks can convince the Empire that these are not the droids they are looking for. The developer becomes a god in their own little universe.

Docker as mercenary

Docker says to developers, “You’re all clear, kid — now, let’s blow this thing and go home.” But by raising $95 million, we’ll see Docker quickly focusing on enabling the central IT empire to “manage” all of these rebel containers. Docker is part of modern devops toolbox, where developers increasingly take responsibility for runtime. But thousands of interdependent exotic stacks can potentially implode as one errant microservice can cause cascading outages. Docker will be well paid to cure some of the problems they will help create.

Yes, Docker blew up the Death Star, but the Empire will just build a bigger one

Docker will be a boon to polyglot agent-based low-level distributed monitoring services like New Relic. But ultimately, the enterprise will not want to have a fantastic dashboard on which they can monitor services crashing after the fact and trying to page the Haskell monad developer who has long since left the company. Enterprise IT will require a way for policies to be enforced during development through continuous-delivery tools before disaster strikes.

Rebellion =/= freedom

Rebellion is not freedom. Containerization and microservices largely mitigate traditional enterprise architecture in favor of sets of federation and data agreements, but reducing the granularity of a service doesn’t mean you’re not still doing Service Oriented Architecture. Adrian Cockcroft says if you want your microservice to be reusable, open-source it — but the issue is not reuse, the issue is abuse.

Continuous delivery restores the balance to the Force

Increasingly, the devops paradigm requires fully automated continuous-delivery pipelines that can ensure module integration, enterprise policy enforcement, and test compliance without cramping developer productivity. Developers should not be the gods of their own universes, but rather should be heroes in a new republic which balances developer productivity and creativity within a software-defined-enterprise continuous-delivery pipeline. Docker has a bright future, but I’m sure I’m not the only one concerned about the battle cry of developer-defined infrastructure. The infrastructure should continue to be software-defined, and contained within a sensible build-automation framework.

Miko Matsumura is the chief marketing officer of Gradleware. Previously he was vice president of worldwide marketing at Hazelcast.


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