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Docker CEO Steve Singh at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Docker was one of the few companies attempting to compete with the white-hot Kubernetes container-orchestration open-source project, but when you can’t beat something, it’s time to join.

Docker’s flagship container software products now support Kubernetes, the company announced Tuesday at its DockerCon Europe conference. Companies running Docker’s Enterprise Edition software will now find it easier to incorporate Kubernetes as their orchestration tool, and support for Kubernetes is also coming to the free edition of Docker as well as the open-source Moby Project.

Containers are the atomic unit of modern software development thanks to Docker. The next generation of virtualization technology, containers allow software developers to package their applications across multiple servers or even data centers.

But as companies start to deploy large numbers of containers, they need something to help manage that complexity, and Kubernetes has been the answer in 2017. Now backed by virtually every company setting the agenda for cloud computing, Kubernetes — part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation — has emerged as the de facto standard for container management among forward-thinking software development teams.

Docker had been attempting to compete with Kubernetes with a product called Swarm. The hope was that Docker could bring the same user-friendly approach to container orchestration that it did to containers themselves, as Kubernetes is a pretty complicated beast.

But Swarm adoption seemed tepid next to the surge of interest in Kubernetes; Mesosphere, which was also attempting to compete with Kubernetes, added support for the technology earlier this year. And given Docker’s support for the CNCF, which is responsible for supporting and maintaining the Kubernetes project, it’s not all that surprising that the company would end up supporting the technology.

Still, the question now for Docker remains the same: where will its revenue come from? Swarm could have been a product that leveraged Docker’s position in container software to drive revenue, but the market has spoken, and now Docker CEO Steve Singh must find ways to wring revenue from Docker’s existing product base.

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