According to the dataset from Redmonk and Bitnami, about 30% of container deployments are in production environments.

The impact of the open source Docker on DevOps and virtualization is evident from how developers discuss the prospects all over the internet, and from its increased use in production environments of both SMBs and large-scale enterprises.

Last year, Datadog published a report on Docker adaption among their users, which showed a 30% increase in Docker adoption in just a single year. 

Docker’s growth momentum is still consistently rising, and along with the capability it gives developers to create, deploy, and run applications easier makes it a vital element in a DevOps ecosystem. Though DevOps pretty much covers the entire delivery pipeline, Docker optimizes the production environments.

Before Docker made a name for itself

Before Docker came into being, developers, testers and the ops team relied on a plethora of tools for configuration management. In addition, they had to deal with the complex integrations and other issues inevitably delaying the project not to mention making it more complex in most cases.

The team will have to make use of various environments that should be optimally aligned to meet the project’s goals. Achieving that alignment requires a lot of effort as well. Conclusively, development wasn’t efficient or fast then compared to how it is with Docker now.

The need for Docker arose primarily due to the evolution of application complexity over the years.

Relief for DevOps teams

Software developers in a DevOps environment are well aware of what Docker can do as a reliable environment for development. It allows the team to configure both development and test environments efficiently, subsequently resulting in successful release management.

With major cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services offering support to the open source container system, Docker allows DevOps teams to deploy to any platform without concern for the underlying complexities. Add to that an extensive collection of official language stacks and repositories from DockerHub, and they have one of the most powerful tools to get the job done quickly.

Ops teams can package an entire application as a Docker image without compromising the build version before it gets added to a central registry. They don’t have to individually deploy EXE and JAR files to the target environment. The Docker image can then be taken by the various environments (development, testing, production etc.) for final deployment.

While the developers are relieved from worrying about setting up and configuring specific development environments every time, the ops team or system administrators become capable of setting up environments (thanks to Docker) akin to a production server, allowing anyone to work on the project with the same settings. 

Docker’s role in DevOps

To begin with, let’s take Wikipedia’s definition of DevOps.

DevOps is a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.

That said, in such an environment, Docker finds its use both as a platform and as a tool. Developers can use it as a platform to run applications while the operations staff can use it as a tool to facilitate integration with the workflow.

With Docker as a platform, the developers can focus on building good quality code. Despite being isolated, Docker containers share the same kernel and OS files. This makes them lightweight and pretty fast; enough to make it one of the best ways to easily and efficiently build distributed systems by allowing applications to run on either a single machine or across many virtual machines. It comes with a cloud service to share applications and automate workflows.

Generally, once development and testing of an application are done, the ops team will take up the responsibility to deploy that app. Before Docker, this phase was quite challenging as issues that didn’t occur during development might show up, giving sleepless nights to the team. Docker eliminates this friction allowing the ops team to deploy the application seamlessly.

Docker-based pipeline in a DevOps environment considerably reduces risks associated with software delivery and deployment. In addition, it ensures timely delivery at a cheaper cost. It effectively unifies the DevOps community as well, supporting the use of popular provisioning and configuration tools like Chef, Ansible, and Puppet etc. From a technical standpoint, Docker facilitates seamless collaboration which is the core essence of a DevOps ecosystem.

The present state of Docker

With Jenkins, another open source tool, becoming more popular thanks to its efficiency in orchestrating complex workflows, developers have started exploring the results of combining it with Docker.

Docker, Inc. decided to invest in build automation last year, and the community behind Jenkins developed many plugins for effective Docker-Jenkins integration. This ended up expanding the capabilities of Docker at the hands of developers, allowing them to create and implement build pipelines on Docker.

Word soon got out, and now many startups have finally started seizing the opportunity to leverage the potential of Docker-based build automation.

CloudBees, one of the first companies, embraced Jenkins and Docker’s build automation to evolve from being just a PaaS player, by offering professional support and services for enterprises planning to adopt Jenkins and Docker.

Shippable, another company, adopted Docker for software build automation.

All these facts and more emphasize the dominating presence of Docker in today’s development realm whether it’s being used in a DevOps system of a simple, small startup or an enterprise with large teams.

Conclusion

According to Datadog’s report,

Docker adopters quintuple (5x) the container count within 9 months after initial deployment. 

Because it’s open source, it brings more perks to the table. Its ability to maintain consistency, productivity, and compatibility while providing reliable security and support for multi-cloud platforms in addition to major corporate backing makes Docker a valuable tool for companies putting their faith on DevOps.

With support from a huge and growing community, Docker will most likely be enhanced in the immediate future providing more out-of-the-box features and more integration choices.