There is a lot of hype out there around container technologies, with analysts and technologists alike evangelizing the many benefits.
It’s not just hype – conceptually, container technologies seem like a no-brainer. In fact, a recent report from the analysts at 451 Research predicts that container technologies will go from being a $762 million market in 2016 to $2.7 billion by 2020. Adoption of container technologies is growing faster by the day, and yet, the number of organizations running containers in production is still relatively low. This is especially true for enterprises, and the irony is that container technologies hold great potential for this sector in particular.
Let’s examine a few of the reasons for this, and how we, as an industry, can help enterprises overcome these obstacles.
1. Provide complete products instead of frameworks and technology
The container market is flooded with various tools, components, technologies and frameworks. All this is great and amazing, and is interesting for people who build highly customized and optimized systems from scratch. However, the majority of enterprises don’t want to go down that rabbit hole; they want complete products with all the bells and whistles already built in. In fact, very few enterprises care about the underlying technology or components as long the product works as advertised – out of the box.
2. Serving both Devs and Ops – not just DevOps
Let’s be real: not all enterprises are in the cloud and most of them don’t have autonomous superhuman devops teams who do it all. Unfortunately, most of the technology and tools available out there today are targeted at those superhumans. By understanding the reality we live in, we can understand the the most pressing needs that we can address:
Ops driven needs – looking for containers as a solution to improve the resource utilization or providing an unified platform for third party software suppliers. They appreciate a solution that is easy to setup and doesn’t require a dedicated team to maintain. One must realize containers are often just part of the solution here.
Dev driven needs – looking for a solution to easily deploy their software (that might be already packaged as containers for dev/test purposes) into production with fast product development cycles. They appreciate ease-of-use, silky smooth workflows and the possibility to integrate the deployment process as part of their existing CI/CD pipelines. One must realize there are also PaaS solutions (utilizing containers internally) which may cover some of these requirements, but without the need to introduce new tools (like Docker) for dev teams.
Hybrid needs – Combination of the previous two categories plus some more! This might be the most interesting category (not just for those superhumans), but it is amazingly difficult to fulfil.
3. Cultivate DevOps culture and mindset
When it comes to container technology, one of the biggest barriers to entry has to do with lack of DevOps culture. Throughout my conversations with folks in all facets of the industry, it’s become increasingly clear that a new cultural paradigm is needed for container adoption to accelerate. There’s a certain fundamental truth – most people resist change. It isn’t just a matter of technological change, but rather, a psychological one.
Container technology is popular with the so-called Technorati, but think about the enterprise sector – some folks aren’t as apt to go with a new technology simply because of hype or the coolness factor.
Many DevOps teams are starting to work with containers and slowly introducing the technology into their production environments, but still, the bulk of organizations aren’t sure where to begin. Containers need to be demystified in order for enterprises to understand the technology’s importance. DevOps teams need to come to the table equipped with real information about the measurable benefits of containers.
4. For the cloud and beyond
The advent of container technologies comes as many enterprises continue to struggle with moving to the cloud. Containers often are associated with the cloud-based applications they support, but many organizations haven’t yet made the switch from on-premises to cloud infrastructure. A delay in moving to the cloud has caused delays in container technologies in many cases. The reality, however, is that these two issues aren’t inextricably linked. Adopting container technology doesn’t have to be dependent on moving from on-premises to cloud infrastructure. There are container platforms out there that allow for deployment on-prem as well as on any cloud, hybrid or public.
5. Constant evolution means essential technologies are still missing
Like any maturing technology, there’s going to be some concern about adopting containers before they are ready. While many vendors claim the technology ready for production use, there is still heavy development activity happening around various container engines, improving security and developing totally new storage systems, among others. It is impossible to find a “perfect” solution today, but the benefits coming from containers clearly outweigh the shortcomings for most of the enterprises.
6. Existing projects
Container technology is perfect for the types of projects that start from scratch, from the ground up. However, those kinds of projects don’t start every day in the enterprise world. In these situations, the more common project is one built on legacy, with a longer history. Moving these existing projects to container technology can require too many resources – be it time, money or manpower – to make it economical for enterprises.
In other words, containers need to play nice with existing hardware and software in order for optimal success.
7. Finding a good container platform is difficult
When it comes to adoption of container platforms, many IT professionals do understand the benefits of the technology but struggle with finding the precise platform for their needs. Inadequate tools and other challenges combine to hamper purchase decision-making.
Many of the biggest players in the container technology space are aimed at massive scale setups and won’t work for smaller scale setups. At the same time, companies need to look for a solution that can be scaled up when needed. In today’s business environment, companies must be able to scale container technology easily and quickly, without having to alter other procedures.
Fortunately, in a rapidly-growing space like this, new and different options are being created all the time. Innovation is happening at break-neck speed, with better options being built constantly.
The times they are a-changin’
Despite the hurdles laid out above, adoption of container technology is growing and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Containers offer great opportunity for the enterprise and it’s exciting to watch as more organizations begin harnessing the benefits. We’re already seeing more and more companies joining the container platform technology space.
Interested in learning more about the many benefits that container technology offers the enterprise? Click here.
Kontena, Inc. is the creator of Kontena, an open source, developer-friendly container and microservices platform. Kontena is built to maximize developer happiness by simplifying running containerized applications on any infrastructure: on-premises, cloud or hybrid. It provides a complete solution for organizations of any size. Founded in March 2015, Kontena was recognized as one of the best new open source projects in the 8th annual Black Duck Open Source Rookies of the Year Awards. For more information, visit: www.kontena.io.
Image credits: Rusty Old Cargo Containers by Boba Jovanovic.