CNCF reports record Kubernetes and container adoption

It's an all containers and Kubernetes IT world and we're just running our cloud applications on it.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

A few years ago when Docker was new, we thought containers would finally be a big deal, but we weren't sure. Fast forward to 2022, and there's no longer any question about it. Docker sparked a container revolution that has transformed computing. Gartner predicts that 70% of organizations will run containerized applications by 2023. They're not wrong. As the recent Cloud-Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) survey has shown, in the 2021 Cloud-Native Survey that Kubernetes, the dominant container orchestration program has reached its highest level ever, with 96% of organizations using or evaluating the technology.

Not bad for a technology that hasn't seen its eighth birthday yet. 

The report found: 

  • Container adoption and Kubernetes have gone mainstream – Kubernetes usage has risen, particularly in large organizations. SlashData, a software developer analysis company, reports 5.6 million developers are using Kubernetes worldwide. That's 31% of all backend developers. 

  • Kubernetes is going "under the hood" – In other words, Kubernetes is increasingly being used in production by companies leveraging managed services and packaged platforms. Datadog, a cloud-monitoring company, claims nearly 90% of Kubernetes users leverage cloud-managed services, up from nearly 70% in 2020.

  • Organizations are moving up the stack – Companies are adopting less mature projects to tackle more advanced challenges like monitoring and communications. According to New Relic, a container monitoring company, the popular open-source, time-series analysis monitoring tool Prometheus, grew by 43% in the last six months of 2021.

CNCF CTO Chris Aniszczyk observed it's fascinating "how quickly Kubernetes has grown from a niche technology to something so utterly ubiquitous that folks don't even know they are using technologies built on it … It's similar to the ubiquity of Linux, which now resides inside so many other platforms and devices: TVs, phones, fridges, and even on the Mars rovers. People tend not to realize all the technology that's underneath."

That said, people are still trying, and failing, to get their heads around containers and Kubernetes. Aniszczyk added, "there is a growing void in understanding that Kubernetes and containers are essentially a package deal." There's a reason why ZipRecruiter in its most recent tech job report stated the average Kubernetes engineer salary is $147,732 a year: There's nothing like enough Kubernetes experts around to meet businesses' needs.

You can also see this in how companies are consuming Kubernetes. Instead of using Kubernetes distros they install and manage themselves, such as SUSE Rancher, Red Hat OpenShift, or Mirantis Kubernetes Engine. Instead, 79% of those surveyed use Certified Kubernetes Hosted cloud platforms, which come with more support hand-holding. Of those, the most popular services are Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (39%), Azure Kubernetes Service (23%), and the older Azure (AKS) Engine (17%). Going further, Datadog's 2021 Container Report showed nearly 90 percent of Kubernetes users now leverage cloud-managed services, up from nearly 70% in 2020. 

As a result, "Kubernetes adoption among the ever-expanding cloud-native community is approaching 100%," said Priyanka Sharma, the CNCF's executive director. Sharma believes "2022 will be a banner year for emerging areas of cloud-native like edge, observability, and security as container infrastructures continue to mature both on the surface and under the hood."

Want to know more? You can download the CNCF survey's raw data yourself from GitHub. As always, the CNCF welcomes people and organizations that would like to work with them on the adoption of cloud-native projects. You can reach the CNCF at the e-mail address: info@cncf.io.

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