The new ‘Business’ subscription has arrived • The Register


Docker will limit the use of the free version of its Docker Desktop utility to individuals or small businesses, and has introduced a new, more expensive subscription as it seeks a sustainable business model.

The company has renamed its free plan to “Personal” and now requires businesses with 250 or more employees, or more than $ 10 million in annual revenue, to use a paid subscription if they need Docker Desktop. No changes are made to the Docker command line engine. The $ 5 / month Pro and $ 7 / month Teams plans continue as before, but a new $ 21 / month Business plan adds features like centralized management, single sign-on, and enhanced security.

The new Docker plans

The Docker platform has a number of components, of which Docker Desktop is only a part. Docker images define the contents of containers. Docker containers are instances of executable images. The Docker daemon is a background application that manages and runs Docker images and containers. The Docker client is a command line utility that calls the Docker daemon API. Docker registries contain images, and Docker Hub is a widely used public registry. Much of Docker (but not Desktop) is open source under the Apache v2 license.

While most Docker components are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and despite the fact that most Docker containers run on Linux, Desktop is only available for Windows and Mac.

Docker Desktop is a graphical tool for managing various Docker components and functions, including containers, images, volumes (storage attached to containers), local Kubernetes, development environments in containers, etc. While most Docker components are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and despite the fact that most Docker containers run on Linux, Desktop is only available for Windows and Mac.

What is the rationale for the changes? Docker has become a corporate standard, CEO Scott Johnston told us, but there are security issues with the software supply chain the company wants to address. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the company needs a viable business model.

“We continue to see growth in the developer market. The latest statistic we have is that by 2030 there will be 45 million developers around the world, up from 18 million today… which requires us to have a business that is scalable in a sustainable way, ”Johnston said. The register.

Most Docker users use it for free, Johnston confirmed, although he hopes paid subscriptions will increase as a result of the changes. “We estimate that today there are double the number of subscribers who are likely to find a way to purchase a subscription, but this still represents less than 10% of the overall use of Docker,” he said. he declares.

Is there a risk that some users will simply decide to avoid using Docker Desktop and continue with the free command line tools? “There’s still a non-zero risk, but we’ve tried to draw lines like it’s organizations that already get a lot of value from Docker Desktop, who will see $ 5 per seat as modest,” said Johnston.

Businesses only need to subscribe to Pro or Teams plans to be compliant. What is the added value of the new Business subscription at three times the price? “The Business level at $ 21 per seat adds a lot more value,” said Johnston. “First of all, it has what we call secure software supply chain capabilities. Users can define, in a centralized control plane, what they want to allow developers to access. development environments.

“We also provide centralized, SaaS-based management to control the configuration of CPU usage, memory, ports and firewall access. Single sign-on is another example of the security and user management that we only provide in this Business tier. “

There are also options in the Business tier to purchase premium support packs and to increase Docker image consumption if it exceeds the package limits, again at an additional cost. Docker used to list “Premium Customer Support” as a feature of all of its paid plans, but it’s now called “Email Support”.

Penguin shaped hole

There are also a few issues with the emphasis on Docker Desktop, including the fact that it doesn’t run on Linux. “We estimate that Linux makes up 20-25% of development environments,” Johnston told us. “We want to have a cohesive management control plan over all of these elements, and therefore monitor this space.” In the meantime, “the updated Docker Desktop terms only apply to Mac and Windows”.

Another problem concerns remote development environments such as GitHub Codespaces or Gitpod. “We have customer requests for this use case,” said Johnston, which will be addressed in part by Docker Desktop for Linux when it arrives. “We still see the vast majority of our users on dedicated local machines, Windows Macs and Linux,” he said, but the company is aware of the trends. “Users want the same remote experience they have locally, and that Docker experience can be delivered remotely. It’s all about productization and delivery.”

The new conditions will be hard to sell for some, but one area Docker may be able to exploit more is security. “Every container image on the Internet is built with Docker Build. Build goes to the Git repositories, extracts the source code, builds the image. Docker Build therefore gives us the opportunity to be at the very beginning of the creation of this image. There’s a standards conversion going on where we can trace where each layer of the image came from, we can start signing those layers, and with that metadata we can start making automated decisions, automated reporting, automated visibility into what has been done for that image at every stage of the lifecycle. “

Johnston envisions tools built on this that “help compliance officers to: ‘Show me who’s in compliance, update all these desktops with the latest images’ … this set of features that we’re introducing [now] is just the start of what will be a multi-year build of additional secure patch functionality for the software supply chain. “

Such a scenario is a long way off, however. The signing standard is to be Notary v2, a CNCF project, and progress is slow, with plans for 2021 focused on prototypes and to “start a Notary v2 specification”. In the meantime, Docker already offers a vulnerability analysis based on Snyk technology. ®

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