Docker has changed operational structure of the popular open source application container project, appointing two people to take over some of the responsibilities in overseeing the project from Solomon Hykes, who started both Docker the open source project and Docker Inc., the company that sells products and services around Docker container technology.
The point is to enable the already rapidly growing project to continue to scale. Docker has been one of the fastest-growing open source projects in history.
Instead of overseeing architecture, operations, and maintaining of the project, Hykes will now be chief architect, while remaining CTO of Docker the company. Michael Crosby, also a Docker employee, will be chief maintainer.
The company made an outside hire to fill the role of chief operator. Steve Francia, who has played an oversight role at MongoDB, a major open source NoSQL database project and company, will now do similar things at Docker.
Francia said he’s been impressed with Docker’s rate of growth: “It scaled at a pace I’ve never seen any open source project scale in the history of open source.”
The open source community around MongoDB is larger than the Docker community, but it took MongoDB a lot longer to get to where Docker is today, he said.
MongoDB and Docker have similar business models. Most of their products are open source, with the exception of few proprietary technologies. Docker Hub, the online repository for Docker container images, and its derivative Docker Hub Enterprise, would be an example.
Being in a role with accountability to a commercial entity while at the same time overseeing an open source project that commercial entity’s business depends on could potentially put one in situations of having to decide between doing something in the best interest of the company and doing something in the best interest of the community.
Francia said such situations are a possibility but what’s best for the open source project is usually best for the company. “I see where there could be a potential for that,” he said. “I believe that the most successful open source companies recognize that their success depends on the success of the project.”
He does not remember any instances in his experience at MongoDB of project and company priorities being out of alignment, and he believes the same will be true in Docker’s case.
“I wouldn’t call it a delicate balance. I would call it a complete consistent prioritization across the company and across the community.”