How Docker's CEO Is Growing the Container Pioneer for the Future

SAN FRANCISCO—Steve Singh has a very succinct vision for Docker. He wants to enable companies to modernize traditional applications with the Docker container platform. It's a vision that is already transforming into market success for Docker as the company has grown from what Singh said was single-digit million-dollar revenue in 2016 to being on track for triple-digit million-dollar revenue for 2018.

Since becoming CEO of Docker in May 2017, Singh has helped transform the container pioneer itself. In October 2017, at his first DockerCon, Singh's company announced that it was embracing the once rival Kubernetes container orchestration system. At DockerCon 18, Docker announced new multicloud federation capabilities and developer improvements to the Docker Desktop.

In a video interview with eWEEK, Singh explains how Docker's Modernize Traditional Apps (MTA) business model works and provided insight into the continued evolution of his company's technology platform.

The core of Docker's business model is driven by the MTA offering, which is more than just a collection of software bits. The MTA offering is all about helping organizations take older applications and turn them into more agile, modern microservices and container-based deployments that can run anywhere.

"The way we sell Docker MTA is actually as a software subscription," Singh said.  

With MTA, organizations get an enterprise-grade platform that allows them to move the management of their entire software supply chain as well as move legacy apps over to the Docker platform, he said.

"This is a very different model than Red Hat," Singh said. "We're not selling support on open-source software; we're delivering a proprietary piece of technology on top of an incredibly well-adopted open technology stack."

Docker Enterprise Edition (EE) is the company's flagship commercial product, providing container engines, trusted registry, universal control plane and management capabilities. Docker also has a freely available Community Edition (Docker CE), which provides the core container application engine capabilities. Singh said that some organizations will begin their container journey with Docker CE and move to Docker EE when they need an enterprise-grade platform for production deployment.

Docker Desktop

Docker also has the Docker for Mac and Docker for Windows desktop applications, which are freely available. The Docker Desktop applications enable developers to run Docker and Kubernetes on a local system for development and testing. Singh said Docker Desktop has been extremely popular, adding more than 1 million new users in the last 12 months.

Customers would like to see additional functionality in Docker Desktop that integrates the entire DevOps experience into one seamless experience, according to Singh, including enterprise team support and integration with existing developer tools and methodologies.

Revenue Growth

Docker is a private company and has never publicly revealed its revenues. At DockerCon 18, Singh provided some limited guidance, noting that revenues grew from single-digit million-dollar revenue in 2016 to double-digit million-dollar revenue in 2017 and are on track for triple-digit million-dollar revenue in 2018.

"We've seen great growth in the business over the last three years," he said. 

The rapid growth is coming from the success of the MTA program, which Singh said is delivering real value to customers. He added that customers are buying MTA and deploying it for all their legacy applications. Additionally, Singh said that Docker's sales team is better understanding what customer problems are with application transformation and how to solve those challenges using Docker.

"We have a go-to-market organization that is very attached to the customer and serving customer needs, and that's how we're growing the business," he said.

What's Next

Singh said Docker will continue to enable the MTA effort, helping organizations deliver different application types on top of the Docker platform. While Docker has some strong competitors in the marketplace today, Singh only sees that as a sign of opportunity.

"We're building this amazing next-generation platform that allows you to have any application on any OS [operating system] and any infrastructure; we're solving that problem," he said. "As it turns out, yes, we compete with other companies, but any big market worth tens of billions [of dollars] is going to have competition. Competition honestly just makes you better."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.