Docker rocker: container technology usage doubles; serious money follows

Survey finds widespread deployments of containers in production environments with observable benefits, at least to development and IT operations.

Over the past year, there has been a 96 percent uptake in container usage in production IT environments, a new survey of 310 IT managers finds. Plus, with an overwhelming majority use Docker (94 percent) as their container engine.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

These are the main takeaways from a survey commissioned by ClusterHQ and conducted by DevOps.com, which also found positive results being seen at the business level, as well as by IT departments.

CIO's Paul Rubens provides the best definition of containers: "Put simply, a container consists of an entire runtime environment: an application, plus all its dependencies, libraries and other binaries, and configuration files needed to run it, bundled into one package."

The ClusterHQ survey finds 79 percent of respondents said that their organizations run container technologies, with 76 percent of them in production environments. This represents a significant advance from last year, in which only 38 percent of respondents had deployed containers in production.

There is also serious real money suddenly flowing into container technology as well. Of respondents who had knowledge of their company's financial investment into containers, 52 percent report that their company is making a financial investment. Fourteen percent indciate these investments have exceeded $100,000, and four percent have pumped more than $1 million into container projects. Most of these investments just started being made within the past year.

There are also tangible results being seen. At least 72 percent of organizations using containers "met" or "exceeded" business and IT objectives. At an IT level, the biggest drivers of container adoption are to increase developer efficiency (39 percent) and support microservices (36 percent), and more than two-thirds of respondents said they are realizing these expected results.

However, the survey did not spell out exactly what the business objectives were -- we can only surmise that flexibility and agility may have been the results seen at a higher level.

Persistent storage was reported as the number one barrier to container adoption this year, ahead of security, which led the list of obstacles last year. The 2016 survey reports that persistent storage - a challenge that arises when containers running databases are deployed in production environments - is now the most difficult challenge when it comes to deploying containers, with security falling to the third spot.

Education and awareness about containers is still a challenge. In addition, survey takers who answered that their organization was not yet using containers cited that the primary reason for this is because there is still not enough known about container technology to warrant investing resources into this space yet.

Amazon Web Services dominates as the infrastructure most likely to be supporting container implementations, cited by 61 percent. The second leading choice was internal data centers, cited by 28 percent. Another seven percent are deploying containers within Google Compute Engine and VMware environments.

Respondents were asked to select all the container orchestration tools they currently use. The top choices are: Kubernetes: 40 percent; internally developed tools: 32 percent; Docker Swarm: 32 percent; and Amazon ECS: 24 percent.

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