Docker really did change the world


In 2013, Docker was the “it” company. Docker made headlines for the critical role it played in bringing containers to the mainstream, and in many ways displaced PaaS as the hotness of the time (Heroku anyone?). Now, the company is back in the press with the introduction of a new model for Docker Desktop that requires larger organizations to buy a paid subscription for the tools. There’s been a vocal reaction to this announcement, one that reminds me of the important role Docker played in popularizing a model we know, love, and now use on a mainstream basis: containers.

Docker did not invent containers, but it made the technology accessible through an open source tool and reusable images. With Docker, developers could really and truly build software once and run it locally, or on a production server.

The fact that the Docker command line tool displaced years of sexy web interfaces is perhaps a commentary on what developers really want. But to really understand Docker’s impact, it’s important to go back to a time slightly before Docker container technology made its debut.

Looking for the Next Big Thing

By 2009, the value of using virtualization was well understood and it was widely deployed. Most organizations had already garnered the benefits of virtualization or had a roadmap to get there. The marketing machine was tired of virtualization. People were hungry for the next innovation in IT and software development. It came in the form of Heroku. In fact, PaaS in general and Heroku specifically became wildly popular. So much so that it looked like PaaS was going to take over the world.

At that time, Heroku was huge. You just go out to this portal and develop your apps and deliver them as a service? What’s not to like? Why wouldn’t you develop apps on Heroku?

As it turned out, there were a couple of good reasons not to use Heroku and PaaS platforms of its ilk. For example, applications built on Heroku were not portable; they were available only within Heroku. Developers had to work remotely on the PaaS platform if they wanted to collaborate. Unlike Netflix, it turns out, developers love to develop locally. If a developer wanted to work on their local box, they were still left to manually build the environment themselves.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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