Last night saw the start of Joyent Container Camp London, focusing on adoption and optimization of the enterprise munching technology. We headed along to the Day Zero event last night to hear how leading organisations and members of the ecosystem were grappling with containers, how they’re adapting to the new landscape the movement is helping to terraform, and what the future holds. Here are some of our key takeaways:

Everything changes when you jump into containers, not just your infrastructure. Joyent’s Casey Bisson outlined some of the essential cognitive shifts that come with the jump to visualization in his talk, “Characteristics of Container-Native Infrastructure.”
It’s important to understand the difference between application and infrastructure containers to fully reap their benefits.

Docker in production is at a “gawky phase”. Moreover, Bisson said that most containers in production are deployed as VMs, wasting some of their power and defeating the economizing potential of containers in the first place.

You can still be secure: Using containers doesn’t have to mean choosing a sacrificial lamb from the trio of security, elasticity and performance. But to do this right, you need to truly understand the anatomy of a container.

The current wave of container hype now is comparable to the explosion of buzz around cloud in 2007/2008. Or at least that was the conclusion of a panel discussion themed around the future of computing, where Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill quizzed Weave’s Alexis Richardson and Canonical’s Udi Nachmany on the legitimacy of containers as a business model.

The overall tone was optimistic – Richardson pointed to a forthcoming ‘democratization’ of containers as smaller businesses started hooking into the technology. Nachmany took a similarly positive stance, sharing the view that in the case of containers, rather than weighing down the movement, the wave of hype that has accompanied the rise and rise of Docker was actively pushing it forward. They key to sustaining this momentum, Nachmany stated, was to keep things simple and not bog people down in information.

There probably won’t be one ‘winner’ in the container game of thrones. Richardson predicts that in the next few years, we’ll see around three or four leaders in the field emerge.

Containers are the new lightning rod for open source debate. Nachmany noted that the wave of container technologies represent a departure from disruptive movements in the past because, in this instance, it’s open source driving the leap forward. The net effect of OSS models is that margins tend to be driven down, so the products that thrive in these circumstances are those that “just work” – enterprises shouldn’t need to to use extra labor to support them. Nachmany speculates that, down the line, this could indeed lead to a drop in the need for professional business services.

Money is the giant elephant in the room when it comes to containers. The real legitimacy for the movement will come when Docker (or indeed anyone else) starts to make real cash. Nachmany reiterated the need for evolution of current business models for this to happen, raising the following questions; How does Docker make money? How do other companies make money? And how do they do it while continuing to build and maintain their communities? As we’ve seen with Oracle in the past week, reconciling the happiness of your community with satisfactory profit margins is no mean feat.

Docker is still really massive and disruptive. Docker containers have now been downloaded over 700 million times. If, as Cantrill speculated, downloads in 2015 are analogous with the pageviews that formed the measure for company success in the first web boom in the early 2000s, then the role of community advocates and evangelists has never been more critical.

Containers and the Elephant in the Room

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