Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Containers Marching to Production, Survey Finds 

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The rate at which containers have moved into production applications has increased three-fold over the last 18 months, according to a survey of cloud native technologies.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) said this week the steady enterprise embrace of the Kubernetes container orchestrator continues as early adopters use the platform to push applications from development to the cloud. The foundation also reported an uptick in adoption of serverless technologies in which cloud providers manage the allocation of computing resources.

According to the survey released in conjunction with community confabs, 75 percent of Kubernetes users said they have pushed applications from development to production—up from just 23 percent in March 2016.

The majority of Kubernetes production deployments are being run on Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN), which last week unveiled new container tools that include a managed Kubernetes container orchestration capability running on the Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS). The CNCF survey found that 59 percent of those polled run Kubernetes-based container deployments on the AWS cloud while 42 percent are deployed via on-premise servers. Meanwhile, 33 percent said they run Kubernetes on Google Cloud Platform.

"Kubernetes continues to lead as the container orchestration tool of choice," the foundation said in releasing its survey on Wednesday (Dec. 6). However, we’re beginning to see more respondents choosing managed container orchestrators," including Google Kubernetes Engine (20 percent), Amazon ECS (18 percent) and Rancher Labs (9 percent).

Rancher Labs announced a partnership this week with Canonical for a cloud native platform billed as management portal to push applications from development and testing to production. The application delivery framework is built on Kubernetes, Rancher 2.0 and Ubuntu, the partners said Tuesday (Dec. 5). The next version of Rancher scheduled for release in early 2018 is intended to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters in production.

Meanwhile, the volume of container deployments also is rising, with the number of respondents deploying production clusters of more than 250 containers rising steadily to 49 percent. By contrast, the low-volume deployments are have declined at a corresponding rate over the last year as container platforms stabilize and expand across datacenters and the cloud.

Container security nevertheless remains a challenge, as do issues such as persistent storage and, to a lesser extent, networking, as container deployments are scaled to production. (Security and container isolation as deployment challenges remained steady at 43 percent, according to the survey.)

Emerging challenges as container volumes ramp up include monitoring, which was cited by 38 percent of those polled, and scaling container deployments (24 percent).

Smaller, more agile companies are driving the scaling of cloud-native applications into production. The survey found that 55 percent of the foundation's community members employ fewer than 500 workers. About half are based in North America, with 37 percent identifying themselves as DevOps teams.

The survey also found expanding use of severless technologies such as AWS Lambda based on pay-as-you-go pricing models. Seventy percent of those polled said they are using Lambda while computing services such as Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions and Apache OpenWhisk are also gaining traction.

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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