June 25, 2017

Containers arguably might be the fastest-growing emerging technology in terms of adoption in recent memory. This week NetEnrich, a provider of a platform through which managed IT services are delivered, released the results of a survey of 200 IT professionals in the United States that finds 71 percent of them are using containers today with another 21 percent planning to follow suit shortly.

While containers themselves may not be an entirely new idea, the idea of using containers to better isolate application workloads is clearly catching on like wildfire, thanks to the emergence of Docker containers.

The NetEnrich survey is the latest in a string of research that finds adoption of containers to be occurring at an accelerated rate. A survey published by Docker Inc., for example, found that 58 percent of the respondents were using Docker containers in production environments. That was quickly followed by a survey conducted by RightScale that found many containers actually wind up landing on virtual machines in production environments.

According to NetEnrich’s survey, the primary benefit derived from deploying containers cited most often (63 percent) is improved flexibility it provides in terms of IT infrastructure utilization. The second most common benefit (53 percent) is reduced IT costs. Nearly half the respondents (46 percent) said they expected to save as much as 30 percent in annual IT costs through the use of containers.

Increased speed/productivity for developers launching code (51 percent) and greater responsiveness to business needs (40 percent) were the third and fourth most often experienced benefits, respectively.

Still, it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to containers. The biggest issue identified by 55 percent of respondents is integrating containers into their existing IT environments. Security (53 percent) and managing containers to avoid sprawl and cost overruns (47 percent) were the next biggest hurdles, followed by a lack of experience with container technology among internal staff (42 percent).

In fact, a total of 66 percent of the respondents described the difficulty in learning how to effectively use container tech such as Docker, Kubernetes and Mesos as “moderately challenging.” Another 21 percent described it as “highly challenging.” Well over half (58 percent) say they are using third-party management tools and services to address these challenges.

In terms of types of container platforms, 33 percent of respondents said they are using CoreOS as their main container technology. Another 32 percent are using Google Kubernetes, 25 percent are using Docker, and 11 percent are using Joyent. Just over half (53 percent) are using Docker containers in conjunction with Apache and/or Docker Swarm, while 27 percent are using Docker with DCOS and 18 percent are using Docker with Mesos.

Additionally, 30 percent of respondents said they’re running containers at an IT-hosting facility or third-party data center. An additional 27 percent are using containers in their internal data centers, while 27 percent are running on Microsoft Azure and 17 percent are running on Amazon Web Services. A full 69 percent are using public cloud services. In terms of overall virtualization costs, 44 percent said containers would help them reduce virtualization costs “significantly,” while 41 percent said the savings would be “minimal to moderate.”

In addition, 76 percent report they are using microservices, while 56 percent have adopted DevOps and 48 percent have adopted automation for code deployments. In terms of monitoring tools, nearly half (45 percent) are using AppDynamics. Another 31 percent are relying on Prometheus or DataDog. Splunk was the fourth most popular monitoring tool at 27 percent, followed by Vistara at 23 percent.

Finally, 58 percent said they are finding services and consultants with container expertise to be “competitively priced” and of “good value.”

Chris Joseph, vice president of product management and marketing at NetEnrich, says the biggest issue with containers is not necessarily the technology itself, but rather the lack of DevOps processes in place to deal with them. Most IT organizations would be better served by addressing shortcomings in their DevOps processors before trying to deploy and manage containers at scale, he says.

In the meantime, while the challenges with deploying containers in production environments are myriad, there’s no doubt that at this point containers are here to stay.

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.