The following blog comes from an interview with Perficient’s Principal of Cloud Consulting, Joel Thimsen, and is part of a series on cloud trends with experts from within Perficient.
It was just six years ago that containers truly came to the attention of the business world with Docker. Now the use of containers is widespread, as businesses have come to understand their importance as the foundation for development.
A Cloud Native Computing Foundation survey found that 73% of respondents were using containers, with the other 27% planning to in the future. Kubernetes is the preferred orchestration technology, with 40% of respondents running it in production. Meanwhile, 89% of respondents were using containers for PoCs, 85% were using them for testing, and 86% were using them for development.
These numbers indicate how far containers have come since organizations began to use Docker-formatted Linux containers in production in 2015. The use of containers has soared over recent years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Simply put, containers are driving a seismic shift in the way applications are deployed and managed. They do this by providing an easy way to package an application and all its dependencies. Businesses are looking to take advantage of the portability that provides, using containers to achieve things like hybrid cloud and avoid cloud platform lock-in.
Kubernetes and containers are quickly becoming the industry standard for modern application platforms. With Kubernetes established as the common foundation for many software products and frameworks, this trend is expected to continue.
Software and cloud vendors have seen this trend and are putting containers at the center of their offerings. Meanwhile, vendors are featuring Kubernetes as the container orchestration system of choice to manage containers. Organizations can then build value on top of this foundation. There are several platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings that are built on top of this core, such as Cloud Foundry and Red Hat OpenShift.
Containers are becoming the de facto standard foundation for deploying and running applications both on-premises and on cloud platforms. As a result, enterprises are using them in these different ways. We see businesses leveraging containers to support their application modernization efforts, build out cloud-native microservices, and even to construct their own as-a-service offerings to internal or external customers.
Benefits for businesses
As mentioned above, containers are quickly becoming the standard across many different computing models. As the standard, they are helping organizations accelerate application delivery by standardizing the application components, simplifying application rollbacks, and reducing configuration errors by ensuring all application dependencies are packaged together. Additionally, containers, along with Kubernetes, are providing organizations significant operational efficiencies by automating many of the tasks related to managing an application environment.
The financial benefits of containers are also plentiful. Their portability reduces the risk of vendor lock-in, as well as allowing you to utilize a hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud environment. Containers also have a lighter footprint than VMs. This means that you can also run a much higher density of containers on a single node. This in turn provides a direct cost reduction for containers compared to VMs, as you can pay for one OS for thousands of containers.
Ultimately, the greatest benefit of containers comes from an amalgamation of benefits. The combination of containers and Kubernetes accelerates application delivery through standardization of components. The single package across all environments eliminates a lot of configuration errors, with deployment automation provided by container orchestration. This ultimately means that time to market is faster through the quicker, simplified deployment in the DevOps pipeline. In turn, this provides the ability to have a consistent environment, which in turn helps security too.
The future of containers
Businesses will continue to use containers and Kubernetes as they attempt to achieve greater efficiency. The aforementioned portability means businesses are more likely to not be as dependent on infrastructure specifics. This is because containers provide an abstraction from the underlying infrastructure, giving greater flexibility.
As previously highlighted, containers enable hybrid cloud. Many organizations have a hybrid-cloud vision, and the pairing of containers and hybrid cloud means that usage rates can expect to grow for both.
As well as these conventional uses, businesses will likely to use containers in new ways too. Much like organizations can write an app for Linux today and be confident that it will be able to run consistently across a variety of chipsets, Kubernetes as a ubiquitous platform is expected to provide a common layer for people to write applications to in the future.
The popularity of containers and Kubernetes shows how important they already are. They have been integral to the way enterprises are looking to operate, run, and build applications.
As container environments grow more mature, enterprises will continue to leverage them as a common platform to build and ship higher value solutions on top of them. These could be for their own organization or for targeted interoperable solutions for customers or partners. The platform ubiquity will facilitate many interesting and new solutions.