Competition Among Container Platforms Heats Up

CNCF survey highlights movement in the container sector

The most recent biannual survey of 2,400 IT professionals conducted by The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) finds that 40 percent of respondents who work for organizations with more than 5,000 employees run Kubernetes in a production environment.

Diving deeper, the survey finds 58 percent of all respondents are using Kubernetes in production, while 42 percent are evaluating it for future use. In production environments, 40 percent are of running two to five clusters, 22 percent are running one cluster, 14 percent are running six to 10 clusters and 13 percent are running more than 50 clusters.

As for which environment respondents are using to run Kubernetes, 51 percent are using Amazon Web Services (AWS), a decrease from 69 percent six months ago. On-premises servers fell to 37 percent from 51 percent, while Google Cloud Platform (GCP) fell to 31 percent from 39 percent. Microsoft Azure declined to 20 percent from 23 percent, and OpenStack fell to 16 percent from 22 percent. VMware, meanwhile, rose to 15 percent from just 1 percent.

The majority of companies still rely on AWS to run containers. But the percentage of respondents citing AWS has fallen to 63 percent from 69 percent. GCP also saw a decline to 35 percent from 39 percent, as did OpenStack, to 20 percent from 22 percent. Microsoft Azure, conversely, saw a gain to 29 percent from 16 percent, while VMware went to 24 percent from barely registering at 1.2 percent six months ago. Overall, the number of respondents citing deployment of containers in an on-premises IT environment fell to 43 percent from 51 percent, which is attributable to more organizations moving away from legacy servers to private clouds running in a local data center.

While wide swings in strategies are clearly expected given the nascent nature of container technologies, the survey clearly indicates both Microsoft and VMware are gaining momentum.

Overall, the biannual survey finds usage of various CNCF projects has grown more than 200 percent on average since December 2017, and evaluation of those project has jumped 372 percent.

Dan Kohn, executive director at CNCF, says the results make it clear that 2018 will be remembered as the year container technologies crossed the proverbial chasm in the enterprise. Seventy-three percent of respondents are currently using containers in production today, which represents a 2 percent decline over the previous survey. The remaining 27 percent (compared to 25 percent in the last survey) plan to use them in the future. Eighty-nine percent of respondents are currently using containers for proof of concepts, as well as testing (85 percent) and development (86 percent). The number of containers organizations typically are running is holding steady, with 29 percent running less than 50 containers, 27 percent are running 50 to 249 containers, 17 percent are running 250 to 999 containers and 15 percent are running more than 5,000 containers.

In terms of container platforms, Kubernetes remains the leader at 83 percent, up from 77 percent in the previous survey, followed by Amazon ECS at 24 percent, up from 18 percent. Docker Swarm stands at 21 percent, up from 17 percent, while Shell Scripts is at 20 percent, up from 12 percent.

The survey also finds a sharp jump in adoption of serverless technologies, now at 22 percent, with the majority—70 percent—using AWS Lambda.

Cloud-native technologies are still nascent. But the CNCF survey makes it clear that determining which platforms will ultimately dominate the next generation of computing in the enterprise is far from being settled.

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.

Mike Vizard has 1389 posts and counting. See all posts by Mike Vizard