DockerCon Observations

Published: by

A few weeks back, I wrote an article on my observations on KubeCon/CloudNativeCon. A number of people asked that I follow up with similar observations about DockerCon.

Last week, I had the unexpected pleasure of attending DockerCon in San Francisco. I say unexpected not because I did not expect to attend, but because I did not expect it to be so pleasurable. Indeed, I fully intended to cancel my ticket, until I was asked by several colleagues to attend with them.

I am glad I did.

In my observations on KubeCon, I wrote the following two key observations:

  1. Real companies with real-world (non-tech) businesses looking to do real-world implementations - also known as “those with big IT budgets” - attended KubeCon for the first time at any scale.
  2. The centre of gravity, and particularly innovation gravity, has shifted to KubeCon.

On the second note, I specifically wrote:

What became clear to me this month is that the centre of gravity for all things container has shifted to KubeCon/CloudNativeCon. This is where new ideas are announced; it is where open-source thrives; it is where venture capitalists go to learn of trends and meet new startups.

I do not think, at least on that front, that I was in error. If anything, I think it more strongly now. Ironically, the one comment that drove it home most accurately for me was a negative one:

Darren is disappointed that DockerCon has become a “boring enterprise sales pitch”. I find it refreshing.

I love the innovative edge in tech, seeing where it is going, getting new ideas. For some time, DockerCon was precisely that… and Docker the business struggled to survive.

During the conference, I discovered that a person with whom I have worked for months now was the author of powerstrip. powerstrip was written to try and force docker the company to open up its structure to plugins and add-ons, something they had fiercely resisted. I believe it is that very opening that created the innovation that allowed the product to survive and thrive.

Docker had this great product, leading-edge conference, resistance to building a true independent ecosystem and a struggling business. Oh, and a 100% aversion to saying the word “Kubernetes” at its conferences by anyone, even independent speakers.

Fast forward to 2018.

KubeCon is the place where one goes to find the future of cloud-native tech, including Kubernetes and many other projects. It is where startups begin, where VCs hunt for up and coming businesses or great new ideas that need funding. It is where real companies look for the leading edge of technology.

DockerCon is where real-world companies go to learn how to implement useful technology now.

KubeCon is about the state of the art; DockerCon is about deploying useful art (without any philosophical discussions about whether art should be useful; it is just an analogy).

Unless and until enterprises adopt container technology en masse, container tech firms will languish, many will disappear, even mainstays. Technology is only as useful as the benefit it brings to real users.

That tweet is right; DockerCon is a big enterprise sales pitch. And a good thing it is.