DCHQ is a startup building software for enterprises using Docker for application deployment and lifecycle management. Founded by MIT graduate Amjad Afanah, who formerly managed application automation offerings for VMware and cloud management solutions for Oracle, DCHQ is looking to fill a very important space: while every forward-looking IT department on the planet sees containers in general and Docker in particular as the way forward, there is a lack of mature management tools with which to keep everything in check. True there are a number of different products looking to fill space, but there is no dominant player, or group of players, as yet.
So DCHQ wants to take up some of that slack with its management tool. It recently launched its first product into general availability. After launching as part of the 2015 500 startups accelerator program, DCHQ has a product and paying customers.
DCHQ's value proposition is all about offering deployment automation for Docker but within the context of governance and control. It's an appealing story that combines the flexibility that containers promise, with the sort of robust management that enterprises demand. 35 users are participating in the beta program - both enterprises and startups.
DCHQ can be installed on-premises on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Ubuntu or CentOS or alternatively can be deployed using DCHQ's SaaS platform. The product itself is a commercially licensed solution with "enterprise grade" support.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room. Or a couple of elephants.
Both Kubernetes, an open source initiative fostered by Google, and Mesos, another open source project offered as a commercial product by Mesosphere, fill the same basic requirements. They also do so with products that are more mature and well known than DCHQ. Not only that but both Kubernetes and Mesos are tied up with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) a new open source initiative aimed at ensuring Docker orchestration happens within some broad standards.
All of this doesn't exactly bode well for DCHQ. It's an unknown player. It's not following an opens source approach (while almost everyone else in the space is, at least to some extent) and its not part of the CNCF, a project that, while in its very nascent stages, looks set to be powerful.
DCHQ, however, is undeterred. Founder and CEO Amjad Afanah, a veteran of VMware product management, says that his enterprise-oriented view of the data center brings a set of capabilities to DCHQ On-Premise that are missing from competitive offerings.
"Enterprises have very specific requirements for deployment of new technologies," said Afanah. "Docker is very powerful, but to move beyond the experimental stage, enterprises need granular access controls and policies. DCHQ On-Premise gives infrastructure operators the controls they need while still giving app developers the agility they want when moving from dev/test to production. Our software makes devs happy while ensuring that the right applications are deployed by the right individuals to the right environments. You need both to succeed.
In terms of what it does, DCHQ On-Premise manages backups, auto scaling, and monitoring. The product provides an interface to build multi-tier applications with support for Docker Compose, JSON, cross-image environment variable bindings, extensible BASH script plug-ins that can be invoked at request time or post-provision, application clustering and auto-scaling. It orchestrates application deployments on Linux hosts running on-premises or in the public cloud using an agent-based architecture with support for capacity-based placement, host and cluster monitoring and out-of-box alerts and notifications.
DCHQ On-Premise also provides granular access controls to clusters, plug-ins, application templates and Docker repositories, including Docker Hub, Quay, and Red Hat Registry. Compute resources can be grouped into clusters and made available to the appropriate teams. Individual developers can register their own local machines and deploy "IT-blessed" application stacks locally. Development teams can also control who is able to pull and push images to any of the registered image repositories.
I'm not convinced about this. DCHQ has smart technologists and is in an important space, but it's missed the boat a little. It will be interesting to see how the company responds to the rapid changes occurring in the space.
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