Partners Say New Docker CEO Will Face Growth, Scale Challenges As The Company Matures

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Docker, the open source startup that kicked off the container-tech revolution, is entering a scaling phase of its business, one that will challenge the new CEO named Tuesday in some entirely different ways from his predecessor, according to partners.

The appointment of Steven Singh, who previously led travel management software vendor Concur, and for the last eight months has been chairman of Docker's board, signals the pioneering container-tech vendor is looking to reach the next level of sales and channel maturity.

Tim Hohman, CEO of BoxBoat, a Docker partner based in Washington, D.C., said the recent DockerCon conference, held weeks ago in Austin, showcased the degree to which Docker is penetrating the enterprise and competing head-on with some of the existing IT infrastructure powerhouses.

[Related: Get On Board: Docker's Channel Maturity Unlocks The Container Tech Opportunity]

To succeed on that front, Docker Inc., the commercial entity behind the eponymous open source technology, needs "to scale out their sales force and marketing, scale out their channel, get much more operationally sound," Hohman told CRN, "and they need a leader that's got experience doing that."

Ben Golub, Docker's exiting CEO, whose career has been defined by work with early stage startups, will take a position on Docker's board of directors.

Golub led Docker through a far different, but no less daunting, set of challenges, and partners praised his tenure at the company since 2013.

Aater Suleman, CEO of Flux7, an Austin, Texas Docker partner, first met Golub at a conference several years ago, when Docker was still dotCloud, a Platform-as-a-Service vendor pivoting in a different direction.

"Ben did some of the hardest parts of the job," Suleman told CRN. "Taking a company that didn't exist, and growing it into one of the most impactful forces in the history of our field."

That initial growth phase presented a unique set of obstacles—the next phase for Docker will bring entirely new ones, Suleman said.

Perhaps the greatest challenge awaiting Singh will be countering a growing perception that Docker is in competition with many of the ecosystem partners whose businesses it enabled, Suleman said.

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