Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Monday, September 25, 2017
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Container Market Pegged at $2.7B by 2020 

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As more evidence emerges regarding enterprise adoption of application containers in production, a market analyst finds that the micro-services are among the fastest growing technologies used to implement cloud infrastructure.

New York-based 451 Research estimated this week the application container segment reached a robust $762 million in 2016 and is forecast to grow at a 40-percent compound rate over the next four years to $2.7 billion.

While that total represents a small slice of the overall "cloud-enabling technologies" market, the researcher likened Linux-based containers to the OpenStack market. Both are based on open source software and have attracted established vendors and a growing number of startups. Long term, 451 Research predicted "containers may have a broader impact on the market than OpenStack."

The OpenStack market is forecast to grow at a 35-percent annual clip through 2020 to about $5.8 billion, according to the cloud forecast. Since it began tracking OpenStack deployments three years ago, the market watcher reported that the number of vendors has grown from 30 vendors in 2013 to more than 90 vendors. "We will be tracking the container market closely to see whether that translates into even higher revenue and faster growth than with OpenStack," added Jay Lyman, who tracks cloud management and container technology for 451 Research.

The market analyst attributed its bullish container forecast in part to "increased movement beyond development and testing to production use" over the past year. In a survey of enterprise IT purchasers, it found that one quarter were implementing container technologies. Of those, 34 percent said they were running production workloads with containers. Twenty-eight percent said they had entered initial implementation for production applications.

"This is an impressive adoption growth profile for a technology that has only been in the enterprise for a few years," the market watcher noted.

Meanwhile, early entrants in the nascent application container market such as Docker along with established players note that container technology is maturing. For example, asserted Docker CTO Solomon Hykes in an interview late last year, innovation in container storage technology "is just getting started."

Docker and others are targeting persistent storage as a way of advancing to stateful containers better suited to production. By contrast, current "stateless" containers destroy stored data as each instance is shut down. "This is largely due to the immaturity of the container persistence technologies available on the market today," argued Kit Colbert, CTO of VMware's Cloud Platform Business Unit. "We’ll soon see increased levels of maturity for container persistence."

Along with fine-tuning storage and security, container market consolidation is expected to accelerate during 2017 as the sector continues to attract venture funding. At least one funding deal will be announced later this month.

The market researcher identified container management and orchestration segments – "where there is intense competition, innovation and disruption" – as ripe for deals. Early deals include Apprenda's acquisition of Kubernetes backer Kismatic, and Cisco's acquisition of Docker Swarm supporter ContainerX.

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 25 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as Executive Editor for Electronic Engineering Times.

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