Stretching the Container Metaphor

The Docker/shipping container metaphor is overdone. I don’t think people have fully thought through what it might mean if containers do the same thing to computing as they did to shipping. Are we prepared for hipsters taking over derelict data centers?

There is an unpublished rule that all Docker articles must be accompanied by a picture of shipping containers. Forbes is a particularly egregious offender. I don’t know if it’s the work of a serial offender sub-editor, or if it’s a company-wide policy. I suspect the latter.

Then there’s the DC2 Desktop Container Computer Kickstarter campaign:

container-computer(I must admit I do like this one)

But what happened when shipping converted to using containers? Consolidation of ports, dramatic reduction in required labour force, leading to waterfront dereliction. Years later cities re-discovered their waterfront spaces, leading to redevelopment & gentrification.

Wharfs went from this:

port adelaide 1914

(Image from State Library of South Australia, CC license)

To this:

derelict warehouse

(Image by David Dixon, CC license)

To be re-born as this:

Auckland, New Zealand

(Image from Wikimedia Commons, CC license)

So does that mean that our data centers will go from this:

people data center

(Image from Intel Free Press, CC license)

To this:

empty data center

(Image from Wolfgang Stief, CC license)

To finally be converted into the sort of bar that these guys play at?

Hipster Band

(Image by Slava, CC license)

Is that what we really want people? Our data centers taken over by hipsters, turning our racks into artisanal furniture, riding single-speeds down the hot aisle, serving cold-pressed coffee using re-purposed sections of cable duct? We better be careful what we wish for.