Docker Lands $40M Funding Round As Linux Container Tech Continues Meteoric Rise

Docker, an open source startup that has emerged as one of the hottest enterprise technologies on the planet, said it closed on a $40 million Series C funding round Tuesday and looks poised to continue making Linux containers more useful for developers.

Developers love Docker containers because they let them build apps that are portable and can run on any type of machine or cloud. Containers also deliver faster performance than virtual machines because they don't have the overhead of a guest operating system.

Docker has spent the last 18 months building a "interoperable, consistent format" for containers, CEO Ben Golub said in a blog post Tuesday. With the new funding, Docker plans to develop support for apps that run across multiple Docker containers, he said.

[Related: VMware Shows Its Plan For Container Tech With 'Project Fargo,' Google And Docker Partnerships]

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"Look for significant advances in orchestration, clustering, scheduling, storage and networking" to enable this type of support, Golub said in the blog post.

Another huge benefit of containers is that they can be easily moved around without having to worry about infrastructure dependencies. This makes them a key technology for "devops," a term that describes the increasing cooperation between developers and operations staff in organizations.

CloudLink, an Ottawa, Canada-based firm that partners with several enterprise vendors, has been working on technology that encrypts data in Docker containers.

Jonathan Reeves, chief strategy officer at CloudLink, said Docker's popularity stems in large part from its ability to speed the application development process. Containers make it possible to move code quickly from development, staging, testing and into production, he said.

Docker has emerged as a potential threat to VMware's dominance server virtualization market. But last month, VMware unveiled Project Fargo, an R&D project that aims to combine the speed and convenience of containers with the security and management benefits of virtual machines.

VMware says containers running in virtual machines can address the needs of its regulated enterprise customers. That may be true, but Docker is already in widespread use in enterprises, so it's an open question whether they'll be willing to embrace the Project Fargo technology.

One VMware partner, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with the vendor, recently started working with Docker on some OpenStack-related projects.

Docker containers are useful primarily because most application development is done on Linux, but also because they give developers more flexibility than they'd have with virtual machines, the partner said.

"The development community will be all over this because it's a path to get out of the vendor-lock in with VMware," the partner said.

Docker's Series C funding round was led by new investor Sequoia Capital with participation from existing investors Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Insight Ventures, Trinity Ventures and Jerry Yang. Docker raised $15 million in a Series B round in January.

Bill Coughran, the senior vice president of engineering at Google, who joined Sequoia in 2011, is also joining Docker's board of directors.