Docker is a containerization software that automates application deployment. It serves as a lightweight alternative to full machine virtualization that’s accomplished through traditional hypervisors like VMware vSphere, KVM, or Microsoft Hyper-V.

With the hypervisor approach, each virtual machine (VM) needs its own operating system, but with Docker, applications operate inside lightweight containers. Multiple containers are able to share a single host operating system, so applications deployed via Docker typically use resources more efficiently than those deployed via full machine virtualization.

Docker containers can run on any type of machine, including physical computers, bare-metal servers, and OpenStack cloud clusters. Millions of developers use Docker to build and share their containerized applications around the world. 

Docker features

Docker has a number of industry-leading features that make it a beloved tool among developers. These include:

Docker pricing

Docker was originally released in March 2013 as an open source project. It is currently offered in four different editions:

  • Free
  • Pro: $5/user/month
  • Team: $7/user/month
  • Large: $7/user/month (500 users minimum)

Docker still supports open source projects through individual container components, such as BuildKit, DataKit, HyperKit, and Moby.

This article was updated July 2021 by Kaiti Norton.

Forrest Stroud
Forrest is an experienced, entrepreneurial and well-rounded professional with 15+ years covering technology, business software, website design, programming and more.

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