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A Simple ROI formula for Docker Datacenter

by Tim Hohman | Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 | Docker

A Simple ROI formula for Docker Datacenter

At BoxBoat, our Docker Datacenter conversations generally start with incredible excitement about the technology, transition to “where’s the best place to start”?, and finish with “to justify this internally, what is the return on investment?”

Return on investment, business case, cost justification – the nomenclature is varied but the objective is the same….spend the corporate resources ($$$) wisely.  Read on to understand how Docker Datacenter provides cost reduction opportunities and to learn a simple formula for calculating those savings.  

The use of Docker Datacenter provides these clear process improvement and cost savings opportunities:

  • Server cost reduction: increased container density and compute efficiency via Swarm will significantly reduce underutilized servers.  Plus, the distributed architecture decreases your need for dedicated high availability servers.
  • Reduced licensing costs: in the near term, Docker will not replace OS-level virtualization however increased container density will allow for an equal workload with fewer VMs.  One Microsoft example, run your multiple Sharepoint dev and test instances as isolated containers on a single host (virtualized or not).  
  • Application deployment and cycle time improvements: dev/test/production parity + policy and controls from Docker Datacenter means → deploy your apps more quickly, more frequently, and more reliably.  Organizations will see increased delivery speed and reduced change-based outages.
  • For a simple, quick cost justification, consider the immediate impact of:

  • Fewer Servers
  • Reduced virtualization licensing and management
  • Increased productivity**
  • The savings are modeled in this way:

  • Fewer Servers:  $1k per month per server reduction opportunity.   
  • Reduced virtualization: $340 per month per server reduction opportunity.
  • ** Developer gains in speed and consistency across environments are well documented.  Organizations may see labor savings through leaner IT operations however our goal is a simple justification, so let’s take a pass on headcount reductions.
  • Here’s one hypothetical example, a corporate web site including its development, test, and production environments running on a total of 20 servers:

  • Fewer Servers:  A 30% reduction is common from dev/test consolidation alone:
    • Savings:  6 servers @$1k/mth = $6k/mth = $72k/year.   
  • Reduced Virtualization: A 50% reduction in overall VM use.
    • Savings:  10 servers @ $340/mth = $3.4k/mth = $40.8k/year
  • This quick cost reduction formula for Docker Datacenter shows an annual savings of $112,800/year.

    There are certainly costs associated with inserting new technology into your organization, however you can easily see how the savings can add up significantly as you extend the numbers from this small example to larger enterprise environments.   

    Lastly, there are many additional scenarios where the use of Docker Datacenter will drive even greater ROI than reflected in this formula.  Docker Datacenter allows for migrations from older, proprietary infrastructures with high maintenance costs to commodity server environments and provides enterprises future-proof options in terms of your cloud usage.  See our recent blog post on this topic to learn more: Maintaining Docker Portability in a Multi-Cloud World

    Hopefully this blog post and simple formula will help you justify your organization’s transition to containers and Docker Datacenter.   For a more detailed discussion on a business case specific to your organization or for a briefing on Docker Datacenter, please contact us at

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