Although there’s a lot of interest in all things related to containers, mainstream adoption among enterprise IT organizations is still in its early days. But a recent survey of 400 customers conducted by Red Hat finds that reliance on containers is expected to increase by an astounding 89 percent over the next two years.
That increase comes on top of a relatively modest base of current usage. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they employ containers today, and only 13 percent say they’re using containers for half or more of their workloads. A little more than one-third (37 percent) are running 10 percent or less of their workloads in containers today.
Margaret Dawson, vice president for portfolio product marketing at Red Hat, says the survey also makes it clear that there is much work to be done. About half of the survey respondents say they aren’t sure whether containers are secure, and only 42 percent say containers are easy to set up.
Performance issues are also a concern. Red Hat notes that while testing has shown that containers are closer to bare-metal performance than virtual machines, 45 percent of respondents say they are unsure whether they perform better than virtual machines and 12 percent say they perceive them to be slower than virtual machines.
Dawson notes that as the enterprise IT environment continues to evolve, IT spending priorities as shifting. The top IT funding priorities for organizations in 2019 are IT operations automation, cloud infrastructure and security, in that order. Those three priorities also topped the list in the previous annual survey of Red Hat customers, she noted; however, automation has moved to first this year from third, with 44 percent of respondents calling automation a top funding priority compared to 36 percent last year.
As IT environments become more complex, IT organizations are relying more on automation frameworks such as Red Hat Ansible, says Dawson. Not only has there been a significant increase in terms of the density of the IT infrastructure being deployed, containers are a much more ephemeral atomic unit of computing that frequently are ripped and replaced, she says. Once an IT organization adopts containers, the rate at which they proliferate across the enterprise tends to accelerate dramatically. Combined, those two issues tend to force the IT automation issue—not only is the cost of hiring additional IT staff prohibitive, but the number of IT professionals who have experience with containers and high-density IT infrastructure is limited. In fact, that latter issue accounts for why so many containerized applications initially are deployed on public clouds.
There’s no doubt at this point containers have crossed the proverbial chasm in terms of mainstream adoption. Many organizations now will need to assess the downstream impact of such widespread adoption. More often than not, most of them will soon discover that existing process and legacy infrastructure are simply not up to the task.