Docker Founder Solomon Hykes Announces Exit from Docker Inc.

NEWS ANALYSIS: In a surprise announcement, Solomon Hykes reveals he is leaving Docker Inc. The company he created and the movement he started are both very different in 2018 than when he founded the company 10 years ago.

Solomon Hykes Dockercon EU 17

In surprise move, Docker Inc. founder Solomon Hykes announced on March 28 that he is leaving the company he created.

"After 10 years building Docker, now feels like the natural moment to move on," Hykes wrote in an email to eWEEK. "That's obviously not an easy decision, but I'm certain that it is the right one for everyone."

The company that Hykes is now leaving is a very different one than the one he created back in November 2007, which was originally known as dotCloud. In March 2013, Hykes introduced the world to the open-source Docker project, re-inventing containers and ushering in a new age of cloud native applications.

The first time I heard of Docker was in September 2013, when I first met Hykes the Linuxcon New Orleans show. I was introduced to Hykes by then Red Hat Fedora project leader Robyn Bergeron, who enlightened me about the potential of Docker.

"Phase one for us at dotCloud is to make sure Docker is ubiquitous and that larger players in IT are comfortable with it," Hykes said at the time.

Docker became popular quickly, with dotCloud rebranding itself as Docker Inc. in October 2013. Docker itself did become ubiquitous and the biggest players in IT, including every major cloud public cloud provider and leading IT vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Cisco and HPE are all "comfortable" using Docker in 2018.

According to Docker Inc, there are approximately 3.5 million "Dockerized" container applications and in total, there have been 37 billion container downloads by individuals and companies.  

Technical Leadership

Hykes has always been the inspired technical leadership behind Docker, but the company hasn't been a one-person show in a long time. Docker has thrived due to the inspired technical direction first envisioned by Hykes, an active community of developers that have extended the vision and most importantly a vibrant community of active users.

Docker is now focused on helping organizations to modernize traditional apps with cloud services and the Docker Enterprise Edition platform.

The open-source project that once was simply known as "Docker" is now a whole ecosystem of projects and organizations. The idea of a container runtime, which Hykes helped to popularize, is now standardized through the efforts of the Open Container Initiative. The original Docker engine has been dis-aggregated into a series of complementary development efforts, under the banner of the Moby Project. The core container runtime that is at the heart of Docker is now developed as the containerd project, which is hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).


Certainly in recent years Kubernetes has become increasingly popular. But let's not forget that Kubernetes at its' core is a container orchestration system and until very recently, the only container runtime that anyone could run on Kubernetes was Docker. Docker Inc. and Hykes certainly recognized the need for Docker to embrace Kubernetes as well, which he did in what is now his last Dockercon keynote in October 2017.

Docker isn't just the simple idea that Hykes explained to me back in 2013. In 2018 it's an entire industry. At Docker, Hykes inspired a revolution in the way applications are built, delivered, secured and deployed.

While Hykes founded the company, he was always most involved in leading the company's technical efforts and was not particularly interested in being the CEO.  From April 2013 to May 2017 Ben Golub was Docker's CEO. In May 2017 Steve Singh became the CEO and currently leads the company. Though Hykes is officially leaving Docker Inc.'s day to day operations, he's not entirely leaving the world of Docker.

"I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved so far and look forward to seeing Steve (Singh) and the team take Docker to new heights," Hykes wrote to eWEEK. "I'll be cheering them on as a shareholder, board member and an enthusiastic Docker user."

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

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.