Docker is a new technology gold rush. Docker, Inc. just raised another $15M in venture capital, and it seems like new Docker-based projects and startups are popping up every week.

Top 10 Docker Startups

In this weeks post, I'm going to highlight the top 10 that have caught my eye. I have grouped them to emphasize the areas in common between them, but many do multiple things.

  1. StackDock
  2. Orchard
  3. Tutum
  5. Flynn
  6. CoreOS
  7. Serf
  8. Shippable
  9. Memcached as a Service
  10. The Docker Book

Docker Container Hosting

All three of the Docker hoster startups listed here have SSD containers.

1. StackDock (by "Docker hosting on blazing fast dedicated infrastructure" StackDock sells SSD Docker-containers for $5/month. You do this by creating what they call a "Docker Deck" which allows you to specify a template with any number of technologies you can put into a Docker container. Then "Drops" are "distilled Decks" that give you an instance of the container. StackDock is a fast way to get going quickly with Docker. There is no free plan with StackDock.

2. Orchard "Host your Docker containers in the cloud" Orchard has a novel take on Docker hosting. Instead of providing push-button web interfaces for launching Docker containers like StackDock or Tutum, Orchard provides a pass-through CLI that lets you deploy Docker containers on the command line remotely with the same types of commands you use locally (just prepending their orchard CLI in front of the docker command you would usually use). For example:

$ orchard docker run -i -t ubuntu bash

You can get $5 of credit for free with Orchard (effectively two weeks free for one 512MB container, paid containers start at $10/month charged hourly). Orchard also provides free private Docker registries for your apps which is a nice plus and persistent storage. One of the cool things Orchard has contributed to the Docker community is an open-source project called Fig which allows you to hook together code and databases really easily.

3. Tutum "IaaS-like control, PaaS-like speed" Tutum aims to differentiate with value-added services like load balancing and persistent storage. Their web console is the most advanced out of the three mentioned here and has a logging console and a nice management dashboard. Tutum also has the smallest available Docker containers, starting at $2/month for 62MB RAM in what they call XS plan.

They offer one month of free hosting for one XS container, so it is easy to try before you buy with them. One of the cool things Tutum has done is created an excellent set of Trusted Repositories on the Docker index that you can use to quickly setup databases and technologies using multiple stacks.

Private Docker Registry

4. "Secure hosting for private Docker repositories" This is the closest thing to GitHub that Docker currently has. Although Orchard has private Docker registries as well, Quay focuses on organizations so that you can collaborate with your team on building the perfect linux containers. Prices range from $12/month to over $200/month.

Docker Orchestration

5. Flynn "The product that ops provides to developers" Flynn is not a traditional startup in the sense of bootstrapping or venture funded business, rather it is an open source project that is sponsored by developers and corporations (including yours truly, CenturyLink). The promise of Flynn is a lightweight Docker-based PaaS that runs anywhere. Flynn provides a set of “PaaS Lego” including an API that orchestrates the management of containerized services across a cluster.

For easy out-of-the-box deployment Flynn includes Heroku-style “git push” deployment and management tools that utilize buildpacks. Flynn was inspired by PaaSes like Heroku but is designed to run more than traditional 12 factor apps by embracing the problem of state.

6. CoreOS "Linux for Massive Server Deployments" CoreOS, a Y-Combinator alum, is a startup backed by top-tier VCs Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital. This is one project to keep a close eye on. Unfortunately the documentation is not great yet, but you can essentially think of CoreOS as 3 projects right now.

  1. etcd - a distributed key-value store that ties Docker containers together by publishing services, IP addresses, credentials, etc. to a central location.
  2. systemd - a init system to replace SysV... this basically gives you a configuration file format for specifying your docker run commands
  3. docker - kind of obvious, but Docker is used to run containers inside of a totally minimal Linux distro called busybox

When you combine those three technologies and chant the right incantation (hint: look at this page where the systemd conf file says "Description=My Advanced Service") you will get a distributed CoreOS platform for deploying and managing your large-scale distributed application requirements. Awesome! If you need more hands-on guidance, you can always pay them to step you through it themselves.

7. Serf (by HashiCorp, makers of Vagrant) "A decentralized solution for service discovery and orchestration that is lightweight, highly available, and fault tolerant" One of my favorite new open-source projects came out of the guys who make Vagrant: it's called Serf. I wrote about it last week in Decentralizing Docker: How to Use Serf with Docker so you can get a great insight into how to use it with Docker there, but essentially it is a hammer you can use where CoreOS and etcd is a nail-gun. Serf is really easy to use outside of Docker and can be used in a lot of different ways where etcd and CoreOS are pretty specific tools that aren't nearly as flexible (though definitely very powerful).


8. Shippable Shippable is a Techstarts startup that just raised $2M from angels and VCs. Their claim to fame is that they use Docker to build containers that run your unit tests faster, more distributed, and safer than in other CI/CD environments.

Since they TEST your code using Docker containers, the awesome thing that they can do is DEPLOY the containers that they just tested wherever you want. This feature is not in general availability yet, but once it is, it could change the game for CI/CD across the board.


9. Memcached as a Service Though today this appears like more of a hobby project than a startup, it still provides an awesome utility and shows of the speed and potential of Docker by spinning up memcached services for you in less than a second. A really cool project and Julien Barbier has posted some awesome slides about how he built this SaaS using Docker.

10. The Docker Book Last but certainly not least is the Docker Book. A book has more alike with a startup than you might realize at first. As an author, unless you are satisfied with selling 10 copies of your book (all to your mother), you have to figure out your go-to-market strategy and your product-market fit. Nathan Barry has written a great book about treating technical books like startups called Authority.


If you measure the health of an open source project by the ecosystem created around it, I think it is fair to say that Docker is the picture of health. Next week we will spend more time looking at some of the top open source projects built using Docker. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get updates. You can subscribe at the top or bottom of this page.