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Portfolio January 21, 2014

Our Investment in Docker

Disrupting Open Source Technology

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In 2003, I was an intern for a software company called VMware that was beginning to popularize the use of virtual machines to consolidate enterprise servers. As part of my project, I interviewed several customers to understand how they were using a VMware product called ESX Server that seemingly did the impossible: it turned a single X86 computer into several virtual servers. Every system administrator I spoke with was ecstatic as they described the magic like experience they had with VMware. A few years later in 2007, I noticed that several of my developer friends were using a new service from an on-line book store called EC2. They were just as enthusiastic about about Amazon’s new cloud business as they described the magic like ability to spin up servers on demand in seconds.

As an open source project, Docker has today captured the same kind of excitement and imagination from developers and system administrators that VMware and EC2 did. In fact, every conversation I have had with Docker users reminds me of those early VMware and AWS conversations. So much so, I believe they are poised to become one of the most valuable technologies across clouds, private and public.

Since launching last March, Docker has emerged as the leading open source project and company making Linux containers usable and manageable. Linux containers encapsulate and abstract applications so they become completely portable. A developer can write an application on her MacBook and then push that application to a virtual machine running in the cloud or even a server just running Linux in a data center. As a result, Docker could be the binding glue between virtual machines and the cloud, providing a tool that both developers and system admins can love because it speeds up the development, deployment, updating, and scaling of applications without any changes.

One of the reasons that Docker has resonated with so many cloud developers and operators is because it was built by cloud developers and operators to solve their own problems around application portability and scalability. Docker was created by Solomon Hykes and his team at dotCloud, one of the first multi-language PaaS companies, and in the past year it has become the de facto container standard for Linux applications. Just like today’s generation of internet users are being born in a mobile first world where they haven’t known life before the smart phone, today’s developers are being born in the cloud — a world where they come to expect instant access to elastic compute and storage. A world where the development to production cycle can be measured in minutes instead of months. Docker containers are becoming the key technology across development and production in this cloud first world.

With that said, I’m excited to announce Greylock is leading the Series B investment in Docker (formerly dotCloud) and I am looking forward to working with both Solomon Hykes CTO, and Ben Golub CEO, to continue to build Docker into the next great cloud infrastructure company. You can read more of Ben’s thoughts on the investment here. Ben brings a career’s worth of leadership and experience in open source, enterprise, and consumer internet software knowledge to the company. Solomon Hykes has been the technical driver behind the company since he started dotCloud with the vision to enable developers to write and deploy cloud portable applications. In the brief time that I’ve been working with Ben, Solomon, and the rest of the Docker team, I’ve been impressed by their ability to execute against their vision while building a broad community around Docker. I feel lucky to have the chance to be part of this journey and am looking forward to the exciting years ahead.

At Greylock we believe that we are at the beginning of a major shift in how applications are being built and run on the cloud. For the first time in years, every single enterprise incumbent is being disrupted in all markets from storage, compute, networking, databases, and enterprise applications. We’ve been investing in this cloud generation of companies over the past few years and are excited to continue our efforts by welcoming Docker to the Greylock family.