April 28, 2017

Rancher Labs, fresh off of raising another $20 million in financing, is gearing up to further adoption of containers by making them simpler to manage.

Shannon Williams, vice president of sales and marketing for Rancher Labs, says as part of that effort Rancher Labs will add support staff headcount to expand its global reach while also bolstering its sales and marketing efforts after the company announced the general availability of its Rancher open source container management platform last month.

Williams says adoption of Rancher thus far is being driven by developers looking for a way to manage containers they write as well as IT organizations looking for a way to let IT generalists centrally manage deployments of container applications.

Because Rancher is natively compatible with both the Kubernetes and Docker Swarm container orchestration frameworks, Williams says Rancher Labs is betting that over time IT organizations will opt for approaches to managing multiple microservices environments using a platform that is not  only simpler to run and master, but also don’t bury priority hooks into those platforms.

In fact, Williams notes that some developers have even taken to deploy Rancher on their local laptops as a means to better replicate the production environment on which their container applications will be deployed on.

For the moment at least the dominant container orchestration framework is Kubernetes. A recent survey published by The Open Stack Foundation found that 27 percent of the 118 IT organizations that have adopted OpenStack are running Kubernetes in a production environment. Another 15 are either using Kubernetes in development or have deployed it in a proof of concept scenario. In contrast, only two percent had deployed Docker Swarm in production, while another six percent were running in application development environments or as a proof of concept.

In general, Williams says that the majority of containers being deployed today run on top of virtual machines. The reason for this, says Williams, is that most IT organizations are trying to strike a balance between agility and stability. Organizations appreciate the agility afforded by containers. But virtual machines are regarded as providing greater isolation of services on a physical machine. In addition, Williams notes that virtual machines are often the path of least resistance. It’s much simpler to provision a virtual machine than it is to get approval to acquire a physical server, says Williams. The degree to which that remains the case over the long haul is anybody’s guess. But the one thing that is for certain is that virtual machines will be around for many years to come.

In the meantime, as far as platforms for containers are concerned Williams concedes it is still early days. But with 2,500 organizations having participated in the Rancher beta testing process Williams is confident that Rancher will be in the mix. The challenge facing IT organizations now is figuring out what mix of frameworks and platforms will be adopted by multiple departments inside their organization that for the moment are all pursing different paths to building modern microservices architectures.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.