Taking the time to attend a conference dedicated to containers and a specific platform such as the recent KubeCon + CloudNativeCon event signals whether an IT professional is part of an organization considering or already making a commitment to containers running on Kubernetes clusters.
But a survey of 204 DevOps professionals attending the conference conducted by Platform9, a provider of managed Kubernetes services, shows what issues many organizations are wrestling with as they make this transition.
In terms of identifying issues respondents are very concerned about, the survey finds a statistical tie (37 percent) between the learning curve associated with operating Kubernetes, the complexity of managing multi-cloud instances of Kubernetes and running stateful applications. When the number of respondents that are somewhat concerned is added in, there’s a slight edge toward citing the learning curve associated with mastering Kubernetes.
In general, the survey finds the No. 1 reason an organization is employing containers and Kubernetes is to deploy web applications based on a microservices architecture (59 percent). More surprisingly, however, is the fact that 52 percent of the respondents cited replacing virtual machines. Thus far, most containers have been deployed on virtual machines running in the cloud or in an on-premises environment. But as IT organizations increasingly become familiar with Kubernetes, many of them are at the very least entertaining the possibility of deploying containers and Kubernetes on bare-metal servers.
Overall, the survey finds that usage/planned usage of containers in the cloud exceeds on-premises environments, but not by much. The top public clouds cited were Amazon Web Services (49 percent), Google Cloud Platform (26 percent) and Microsoft Azure (23 percent). But a full 41 percent cited on-premises environments. Perhaps most telling of all in terms of reliance on bare metal, only 21 percent cited VMware as a target platform.
Platform9 CEO Sirish Raghuram says the survey shows that appreciation for the capabilities of Kubernetes clusters is accelerating quickly. Nearly half the respondents (48 percent) expressed an interest in emerging function-as-a-service (FaaS) environments that provide a higher level of abstraction for building and deploying applications on a container environment.
Naturally, it’s too early to definitively conclude a major shift in how containers are being deployed is underway. But going into 2018, many IT organizations are clearly open to new possibilities. At the same time, the IT vendor community is recognizing that some sort of fusion of containers and hypervisors that run virtual machines is inevitable. IT organizations appreciate the isolation that a hypervisor enables. But there’s a lot of overhead that, in the case of commercial instances of VMware, many organizations don’t want to incur.
Kubernetes running on bare-metal servers is not likely to replace virtual machines wholesale anytime soon. But the days when virtual machines dominated enterprise computing may be numbered. Enterprise IT environments are becoming more diverse in the type of IT infrastructure being employed. The challenge IT organizations will next face is figuring out how best to manage it all.