Docker Inc. CTO Solomon Hykes will leave the company he co-founded as it grapples to find a new direction in the rapidly expanding container ecosystem.
In a blog post, the 34-year-old Hykes said he was leaving his CTO position and involvement in the company’s day-to-day operations. He will maintain a position on the company’s board of directors.
Hykes explained that Docker Inc.’s current operations requires a CTO with “decades of experience shipping and supporting software for the largest corporations in the world.”
“So I now have a new role: to help find that ideal CTO, provide the occasional bit of advice, and get out of the team’s way as they continue to build a juggernaut of a business,” Hykes wrote.
Hykes started what became Docker Inc.’s container work as part of dotCloud, which was a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company that eventually became Docker Inc. in 2013.
Docker Inc. was foundational in the development of the current container ecosystem. The firm’s container platform, which is known as simply Docker, remains the basis for many container deployments today.
However, the money-making aspect of its business is centered on its Enterprise Edition framework. Docker EE was launched a year ago as a company-supported platform targeted at organizations looking to offer container-based applications.
Soon after the launch of Docker EE, Docker Inc. replaced long-time CEO Ben Golub with industry veteran Steve Singh. That move was considered instrumental to the company positioning itself to better compete in the container and cloud space.
The CEO change came on the heels of reports of a possible $4 billion acquisition attempt by Microsoft. That deal obviously did not happen, but Docker Inc. last year did raise funds that valued the company at around $1.3 billion.
Despite Docker’s continued dominance as the basis for many container deployments, a number of vendors have cited decreasing interest in Docker Inc.’s other hosted platforms compared with those being offered through the Kubernetes community.
As an example, Rancher Labs last year moved to replace Docker Swarm with Kubernetes as its container orchestrator technology of choice. Sheng Liang, CEO and co-founder of Rancher Labs, explained that the move was tied to consumer demand.
“We were hearing from customers that Kubernetes support was what they wanted,” Liang said. “This request was a lot more than what we were hearing for Mesos or [Docker] Swarm.”
Dan Berg, distinguished engineer for container service and Istio at IBM, echoed that sentiment when describing IBM’s decision to focus its container orchestration efforts on Kubernetes. Berg said it was a difficult decision to make at the time as Docker and Mesos were seen as the staples in that environment, but history has shown it was right to go all-in on Kubernetes as there has been “virtually no requests for Docker or Mesos.”
Docker Inc. itself also moved closer to Kubernetes by adding native support for the orchestrator alongside Swarm inside of its Docker Enterprise Edition framework. Docker EE had previously allowed customers to use Kubernetes as their container orchestrator, but it was not part of the embedded code.
Banjot Chanana, senior director of product management at Docker Inc., said the move was made to satisfy customer requests.
“This is really about having to choose an orchestrator off the table,” Chanana said. “The container space has been evolving for some time and changing a lot over the past few years. For enterprises that need the value of Kubernetes or just said they wanted the opportunity to choose and not be tied to a specific vendor, this makes sense.”