Survey Finds Increase in Container Expertise Among Services Providers

The number of IT services providers that have container expertise has increased substantially, but few of them would classify themselves as full-on experts just yet.

A survey of 138 IT service providers published this week by Diamanti, provider of a bare-metal hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform optimized for containers, finds 45 percent of respondents describe their technical knowledge of containers as being at the “Beginner” level. Only 4 percent claim to have “Expert” knowledge.

A full 43 percent of respondents say they are already working with Docker today, and 31 percent report they are working with Kubernetes clusters. The survey finds 27 percent of respondents say containers represent a significant opportunity now or within the next six months. Another 36 percent said containers represent a significant opportunity within the next 12 months.

But acquiring the right level of skills is still an issue. The survey finds that while only 17 percent identified skills as a major inhibitor, more than half (57 percent) viewed skills to be at least a moderate inhibitor. Acquiring those skills will make all the difference when it comes to IT services providers deeming themselves to be experts.

Half those respondents (50 percent) said container adoption is being driven by end customers. In effect, IT service providers are rushing to catch up to where developers are pulling the rest of the IT industry. In the meantime, there’s still a lot of confusion among IT service providers concerning that relationship between containers and existing virtualization platforms. Almost half the survey respondents (49 percent) say believe that containers will be “somewhat competitive” with existing virtualization technologies. Only 6 percent view containers as “a complete replacement” for virtualization.

While virtual machines are not going away anytime soon, Fred Love, chief marketing officer for Diamanti, says when container applications get deployed in production there’s an inevitable push toward bare-metal servers to both reduce the size of the software stack and improve overall application performance.

Because of that issue, two-thirds of the survey respondents said they believe VMware has the most to lose from the advent of containers, versus 22 percent that said they think VMware may have the most to gain. The biggest beneficiaries of the rise of containers were consistently identified as cloud service providers.

The most common use cases for containers were identified by survey respondents as being New Cloud-Native Applications (46 percent), Cloud Migrations (32 percent) and “Lightweight Stateless Applications (26 percent). Initially, containers were most widely used in stateless applications. But as the persistent storage options available for containers continues to mature, the number of stateful applications being developed using containers has started to increase substantially.

Of course, that assumes a vibrant container ecosystem is in place. Many developers are familiar with containers, but IT operations teams are not yet as well-versed. The path of least resistance when it comes to containers is to deploy them either in the cloud, on a virtual machine or in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment. But as IT organizations become more comfortable with containers, it’s now only a matter of time before bare-metal servers inside and out of the cloud start to play a more prominent role hosting containerized applications.

Mike Vizard

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.

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