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Containers to Overtake VMs in Application Platform Space, Says SDxCentral Survey

| by Hrishikesh Barua Follow 4 Followers on Aug 21, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

One of the key findings of the 2017 Container and Cloud Orchestration Report from SDXCentral is that container adoption has steadily increased in the last two years and is set to overtake virtual machines (VMs) in the application platform space. In 2016, only 8% of respondents had deployed containers while this year, 45% are already using it.

In its third year, the annual survey report focuses on the cloud orchestration and automation landscape, and the challenges facing enterprises and other respondents. The primary reasons given by respondents for adopting container technologies were speed of creating and destroying (63%), lower perceived overhead than VMs (58%), and ease of management (47%). These translate to benefits like faster speed of testing and deployment of applications, higher application portability and better security by separating apps from the underlying infrastructure, and a standardized upgrade mechanism.


Image Courtesy - The SDxCentral 2017 Container and Cloud Orchestration Report

The survey respondents include Enterprises (33%), Communication Service Providers (31%), and Cloud Service providers (19%). According to the 2016 report, only 8% of the survey respondents had deployed containers, while 76% were evaluating the technology. This year, 45% of the survey respondents confirmed that they are using container technology. Among the ones who have not deployed yet but plan to, 45% expect to do so in the next year, 10% in the next 3-6 months and 35% in the next 6-12 months. In a similar study by Forrester Research, 31% of enterprise IT organizations surveyed have deployed containers, and the increase in adoption in the last 5 months is primarily due to the ease of doing lift-and-shift legacy applications to the cloud when containers are used.

The most popular orchestration platform is Kubernetes at 64%, Docker Swarm at 36%, and Apache Mesos/Mesosphere at 18%. Kubernetes, originally developed at Google, has good industry support and is a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) projects. Docker Swarm, developed by Docker Inc., is optimized for Docker Engine, and the company has built a management stack on top of Docker Swarm. Docker is also allied with Microsoft, with Docker support inbuilt in Windows Server 2016 and on Microsoft Azure. Apache Mesos is an Apache Foundation project, with a commercial version provided by Mesosphere. There are also proprietary platforms in use apart from these.

According to the report, the primary blockers to container adoption remain the overall lack of maturity (51%), a lack of management and deployment tools (27%), and a lack of knowledge of how to scale containers (21%). The lack of maturity can be interpreted in terms of packaging and ecosystem compared to VMs. Also, traditional management tools cannot handle containers, so there are instances of organizations who are deploying containers on top of VMs where they could have just run on bare metal with an orchestration tool running. Other reasons include potential security vulnerabilities, lack of persistent storage and weak networking options - although the latter has gradually improved in recent times.

Mature orchestration platforms are an important driver for adoption. While in the coming year, 73% of the respondents expect to use virtual machines, and 68% to use containers, most of them (67%) also expect that their orchestration/automation vendor should support all of their selected technologies.

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It's not either/or...It's both. by Clinton Begin

VMs and containers solve very different problems. VMs are far better at resource isolation and security, while containers are far more convenient for dependency management. Together they create a fantastic technical harmony. But if you attempt to use containers for resource isolation or multi-tenant isolation, you'll have a bad time. Similarly VMs for dependency management is wasteful. That said, if you simply count up the number of containers vs. VMs, yes, there should be more containers than VMs overall. But that doesn't mean they're entirely more popular.

Re: It's not either/or...It's both. by Hrishikesh Barua

I don't think the report is just about superiority of containers with their increasing numbers being cited as a proof of the same. The numbers, IMO, is an indication that the industry is starting to recognize the benefits of container based architectures. Application delivery and dependency management (as you said) are smoother with such architectures. At the same time, unfamiliarity and lack of tools that can manage hybrid architectures will probably slow things down a bit.

Most popular frameworks by Matt Goodwin

<snip>The most popular orchestration platform is Kubernetes at 64%, Docker Swarm at 36%, and Apache Mesos/Mesosphere at 18%</snip>

Note: this adds up to more than 100%. What's the real % breakdown?

Re: Most popular frameworks by Hrishikesh Barua

According to the report, the respondents could choose more than one option (all that they are using), so the total adds up to more than 100.

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