2016 may be remembered as the year that container technology began to firmly take root across many data center environments. Case in point — 36% of users in ESG’s soon-to-be-published hybrid cloud survey indicated they are currently using containers in a limited capacity, with an additional 32% reporting they are currently testing containers. Perhaps more telling is the fact that only 4% reported they have no plans at all to use containers.
While adoption is still in the early phases, there is strong momentum on the side of the increased use of containers, particularly amongst application developers who are eager for standardized and simplified ways to build ship and deploy new applications. Through containers, developers can push newly developed applications straight from their laptop into a production environment, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. This can greatly accelerate application deployments across private and public clouds. As such, containers can be a key technology for enabling continuous application innovation; a must-have for businesses intent on staying one step ahead of the competition.
I discussed containers and my upcoming hybrid cloud research in a recent video:
One of the key developments in 2015 for making the possibility of container adoption ubiquitous was the creation of the Open Container Initiative (OCI). This foundation is composed of a who's-who from the technology universe, from traditional suppliers like Cisco, Dell/EMC, HPE, IBM, Microsoft and VMware to digital age companies like Amazon, Google, CoreOS and Docker (among many others). The signficance of OCI is that it should lead to creating standards around container formats and runtime.
Many IT planners see containers as a way to support next generation cloud based applications and as an opportunity to drive additional infrastructure efficiencies. That being said, many IT managers are rightfully concerned about container security, isolation and management. But with traditional technology vendors, like Microsoft and VMware providing support for container management tools like Docker, businesses can potentially get the best of both worlds - virtual machine isolation and security with the flexibility and speed of container based applications. In addition, container technology vendors like CoreOS are providing a packaged suite (called Tectonic) of container management tools that address container security, isolation and management; providing IT planners with still more options for integrating containers into their environment.
Female: The following is an ESG 360 video.
John: I'm here today with Colm Keegan, senior analyst for Cloud computing at ESG. Welcome Colm.
Colm: Thanks John, thanks for having me.
John: What other developments do you see being major trends in 2016?
Colm: Keeping a close eye on containers. As you know, a lot of the excitement around containers. Docker came to market a couple of years ago, and since then it seems like everybody's talking about it. I think this year we're going to see more uptake in containers. The reason I say that is my recent hybrid Cloud research we asked end users if they're using containers or how they're using containers. I think the most telling statistic was that only 4% said we have no interest in containers.
Colm: Everyone else is either testing them or using them in some sort of limited capacity. Really the driver behind this is two things: infrastructure efficiencies - because you could have a more lightweight way to densely pack applications onto a server, it's gaining a lot if interest there - but primarily from application developers. They're saying you know what, I can actually build an application on a container, my laptop, import it to anywhere I want, it's totally infrastructure agnostic.
John: It gives them a lot of platform flexibility.
Colm: Platform flexibility, speed up application deployments, that's real agile. I think that's something that's going to continue to take hold. We're seeing lots of companies and we're even seeing Cloud providers starting to have container as a service offerings.
Colm: That's sort of I think a good bellwether for the place for containers going forward.
John: Well, great stuff Colm. Thanks for sharing some of your predictions for the coming year. To read Colm's research or his blog, you can visit esg-global.com.