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Docker hopes that Docker Enterprise 3.0, which it plans to unveil later on Tuesday at DockerCon, will convince companies looking for help while getting on board with containers to spend their money with the company that kicked off the movement.

Docker Enterprise 3.0 will come with an updated desktop development console for creating and deploying containers, features that help companies working with Kubernetes develop and test applications on their PCs, and a managed version of Docker’s platform presented as a service on either OpenStack on-premises servers or cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. During his keynote address later on Tuesday morning, Docker CEO Steve Singh plans to introduce the new version as the best way to avoid cloud-vendor lock-in when choosing a managed container or Kubernetes service, said Scott Johnston, chief product officer at Docker.

“Freedom of choice is the core Docker value,” Johnston said in an interview with GeekWire ahead of the San Francisco event. The degree to which corporate tech buyers balance ease of use versus freedom of movement when buying cloud services varies from company to company, but there’s definitely a generation of tech buyer that remembers the bad old days of vendor lock-in and wants to avoid a similar fate in the cloud era.

The new version of Docker Desktop Enterprise allows administrators to set policies around how their developers use containers and also helps them get containers up and running more quickly with preset templates, Johnston said. Docker rose to prominence several years ago by making containers — which let software developers package their apps in portable containers that can be moved across servers — easier to use, and the new version adds new management features while still allowing developers to work with the development environment of their choice.

Scott Johnston, Docker chief product officer, speaks at the 2017 GeekWire Cloud Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Another new feature in Docker Enterprise 3.0, Docker Applications, was designed around the CNAB open standard for managing multiple containerized applications. As developers have moved from deploying applications on virtual machines to building around containers, managing the growing number of interlocking dependencies across applications has grown even more complex, and Docker Applications should help streamline that process by offering several different configuration options.

At one point, Docker had hoped that it would be able to translate the popularity of its container technology over to a different product called Swarm that was designed to manage large deployments of containerized applications. But as anyone involved in cloud computing over the last few years is aware, the open-source Kubernetes project emerged as a de-facto standard for container orchestration, and Docker waved the white flag in October 2017 with its pledge to support Kubernetes.

Docker Enterprise 3.0 will extend that support to the desktop Docker client, so developers can build applications on their PCs with the assurances that those applications will run in the same exact environment on a server. Building applications for Kubernetes through Docker is one way to ensure that those applications will run on multiple clouds, Johnston said.

And for those companies that would prefer Docker take the wheel, the company is introducing Docker Enterprise-as-a-service. Customers that have implemented OpenStack technologies within their own data centers or have existing relationships with AWS or Microsoft Azure will be able to simply “consume Docker Enterprise 3.0” without having to worry about configuration or software updates, Johnston said.

This is the first time Docker has offered such a service across operating environments, Johnston said, and support for additional providers is coming soon, with Google Cloud Platform and VMware the most likely candidates.

Docker Team at DockerCon 2017, Austin TX. Photo by Alabastro Photography. (Docker Photo)

And rounding out Tuesday’s planned announcements, Docker plans to update the tools and services it offers on top of Docker Enterprise 3.0 to include so-called “greenfield” applications, or brand-new containerized applications being put into production for the first time. Under its Modernize Traditional Applications program introduced last year, Docker offered a helping hand for companies that wanted to put older applications into containers, and it will now extend those services to customers that need help getting new applications into containers.

Tuesday’s announcements are very much in keeping with Docker’s arc, shifting over the past few years from a developer-focused technology company to an enterprise software vendor under Singh, who has pulled this trick off a time or two in the past at companies like Concur.

Docker’s technology lit a fire under a generation of developers, but the nice people who invested $273 million into the company at a lofty valuation need to see revenue. And the quickest path to revenue for enterprise technology companies are the late-adopter multinational companies who are just waking up to the fact they need to get with the modern enterprise computing program.

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