Docker launches remote container builds, new debugging tools and more

Docker today announced a slew of new products at DockerCon, the company’s user conference which has returned as an in-person event. These include a new remote build service, new debugging tools and the general availability of Docker Scout, the company’s software supply chain security service.

The event comes at an interesting point in Docker’s history. When it pivoted in 2019 to re-focus on its developer tools and community (and sold Docker Enterprise to Mirantis), the company was seeing just under 12 million monthly active users, Docker CEO Scott Johnston told me. Today, that number is closer to 20 million monthly actives. Also, more than 79,000 businesses now subscribe to one of Docker’s paid plans.

As Johnston noted, today’s announcements focus on the inner loop of app developers — that is, everything that focuses on the individual developer and their coding experience and testing processes, all of which typically happens on a local machine. “We’re bringing what’s called hybrid — local and cloud — to the inner loop app development, meeting developers where they are with just enough cloud,” Johnston said. He noted that in the early days of the container revolution, apps typically didn’t consist of more than a handful of containers. Now, those apps are often made up of 20 or 30 containers and that puts a lot of pressure on your typical developer laptop. “Moreover, when they’re working on an app locally, it’s hard to share a running app with your colleagues,” Johnston added. “And if that app you’re working on locally is dependent on some remote service, like a database as a service in the cloud or an AI service, it’s kind of hard, especially with security and such up your grill if you’re working in a large environment.”

Image Credits: Docker

Some companies have tried to get around this by moving the entire development process into the cloud by offering developers cloud-based IDEs, for example. Johnston argues that this isn’t something that every company is going to be comfortable with. He also said that what Docker is hearing from its customers is that this breaks existing workflows. “Because of where we are on the local laptop, where Docker Desktop sits, we see a unique opportunity to not make it either/or — not local or cloud — but local and cloud and bring the best of both worlds together.”

While this next generation of Docker Build is clearly the highlight of today’s launches, the new debugging tools are also worth a closer look. Docker Debug is essentially an integrated toolbox for the local and remote debugging of containerized apps. Johnston noted that while developers can often spend more than half of their time on debugging, much of that time isn’t spent on solving problems but navigating the tool landscape. “What we’re doing is putting this all together in a single experience. [Developers] don’t have to worry about language-specific tooling, they can debug local and remote containers, stopped and running containers. And all the tools are there in one box, so they can spend their time problem-solving versus setting up configuring and fussing with tool chains,” Johnston noted.