August 23, 2017

There’s a significant amount of debate these days over where best to deploy container applications. Bare metal servers, virtual machines and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments are all in the mix. But a new survey of 328 IT professionals attending the recent Cloud Foundry Summit conducted by the Cloud Foundry Foundation consortium finds that 71 percent are already using containers.

Of those, 88 percent are using Docker, 55 percent are using Garden and 39 percent are using Warden. Garden and Warden are the two container platforms native to Cloud Foundry. Only 11 percent are using LXC, 3 percent are using rkt, and 2 percent are using LXD.

At the same time, only 35 percent of the respondents say they rely solely on Cloud Foundry for all of their container management. That suggests many of the respondents are employing multiple platforms to manage containers.

In fact, because containers such as Docker are highly portable, most IT organizations, in time, will find themselves managing them on virtual machines, bare metal servers and in a PaaS environment. The survey finds that most of the implementations of its PaaS are running on Amazon Web Services (59 percent); followed by VMware vSphere at 55 percent, OpenStack at 45 percent and Microsoft Azure at 23 percent. Almost all those PaaS instances were installed by an internal IT organization rather than an external IT service provider. Interestingly, more than half the attendees (55 percent) report using multiple clouds with some form of AWS and VMware vSphere being the most prevalent.

Devon Davis, head of marketing for the Cloud Foundry Foundation, says that when it comes to deploying container applications in a production environment, the richness of the Cloud Foundry PaaS environment makes it truly feasible to manage container applications at scale.

Most of the IT environments employing Cloud Foundry actually are running Docker images on top of the native containers Cloud Foundry created long before Docker came on the IT scene. Even so, Cloud Foundry is finding favor with some relative newcomers to the platform. Fidel Torre Michieli, a systems architect at Ultimate Software, said his company—which provides human resources software delivered as a service—evaluated several approaches to deploying and managing containers. Because of the need to be able to accomplish that goal on industrial scale as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application provider, the Cloud Foundry PaaS is proving to be indispensable.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation survey found that 59 percent of attendees already have deployed Cloud Foundry in production. Another 19 percent have it under development or in testing, and 11 percent say they are still in the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage.

Regardless of where any of those organizations might wind up, it’s clear that a significant percentage of containers will end up running on PaaS environments that can be used to host microservices while simultaneously making it simpler to access back-end legacy applications. The challenge facing IT organizations is figuring out what mix of container platforms makes the most ultimate sense, given their own unique DevOps requirements.

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.