The DotCloud Pivot: How Competitors Suddenly Became Partners


DotCloud started up as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider allowing app developers to focus on the code while they handled scaling, deployment and load balancing.

In a busy space dominated by Heroku (Salesforce) and Cloud Foundry (Pivotal), DotCloud managed to get thousands of developers to build applications with their stack.

Although DotCloud was successful, the management team soon realized that customers wanted to be able to use any stack, move between any infrastructure (public, private, virtualized, etc.) and be able to integrate with any technology, something none of their competitors offered.

In March 2013, after multiple tests in-house, DotCloud released the first Docker containers — lightweight platforms designed to handle the relationships with web services allowing developers to move their applications between environments and clouds without modifying the code — as an open-source solution.

The Docker ecosystem grew rapidly. At the time of writing, more than 140,000 containers had been downloaded, 150 projects had been built on top of the open-source engine, thousands of containerized apps had been listed, 50 meetups in 30 cities had been organized, over 13,000 developers had completed Docker training and companies like Google, eBay, Baidu and RelateIQ had publicly endorsed Docker. It had changed the way software was written, built, and deployed.

The company’s zoom-out pivot drastically changed their market. Companies that used to compete with DotCloud had become partners of Docker, as evidenced by competitor Heroku creating a PaaS implementation named Dokku (Docker + Heroku).

The pivot proved community engagement and user base growth. It was so successful that, in October 2013, DotCloud officially changed its name to Docker to focus on their container service.

Revenue validation is in the works this year with ideas around commercial services based on Docker containers, commercial support for business users and partnerships with vendors; however, in just eight months, Docker gained a strong competitive edge by pivoting target market and changing the rules of the game.


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