It's no small testament to the appeal of container technology that Docker -- by far the leading contender in the field -- went from under 3 million downloads in June 2014 to 100 million last month.
Containers have wrought little short of a revolution in the world of software development, enabling companies to build high-quality applications faster and more efficiently than before. With container technology, developers can quickly assemble apps from components and then package them up as self-sufficient, portable units that can be run in many different kinds of environment without modification, from laptops to servers and the cloud.
The potential for organizations large and small is considerable; one obstacle standing in the way, however, is data. Containers don't typically accommodate data well, meaning the databases that underlie virtually every major application must undergo major modification or reside elsewhere, outside the application's container.
That's where ClusterHQ comes in. In August the company launched an open source project called Flocker with the goal of allowing developers to run their databases inside Docker containers and make them as portable as the rest of the app. ClusterHQ has announced that it's taken in a fresh $12 million in funding thanks to a Series A investment round led by Accel Partners.
"Having closely followed the evolving needs of enterprise IT organisations, we believe that enterprise adoption of container technology will be greatly accelerated when containerization offers the same data management and protection solutions that enterprise IT organizations have come to expect from virtualization," said Kevin Comolli, a partner at Accel Partners who will join ClusterHQ's company's board of directors.
The company -- which also recently added storage industry veteran and serial entrepreneur Mark Davis as its CEO -- plans to use the new funds to expand its resources to help organizations use containers in production.
Also in the works at ClusterHQ is Powerstrip, a tool for prototyping Docker extensions.
"ClusterHQ is pretty well-positioned in terms of managing and orchestrating Docker and containers for enterprises with a particular focus on data services," said Jay Lyman, a senior analyst for enterprise software with 451 Research.
"Data and the management of it is one area where large enterprises typically need help and support, since Docker and the technologies around it are fairly new and also often foreign to large enterprise organizations and IT shops," Lyman added. "By addressing the data-services aspects of this, ClusterHQ is bringing Docker and container technology more in line with what large enterprises expect and demand."