I have always found trade shows to be somewhat awkward. They are basically pep rallies for an industry or a company to make sure all of its fans know just how awesome it is. (Yay team!) Also, because I am usually awkward in public situations.
It’s with this mindset that I am about to embark on my latest trade show trek — the upcoming Cloud Foundry Summit. But instead of the usual cynicism, I am hopeful that this event will have some real meaning. You see, all is not well in the container world.
Sure, containers and Kubernetes, which started with a focus as a container orchestration platform, are getting a lot of attention. But recent interviews and surveys, including one by the event organizers, indicate that both continue to cause deployment and operational headaches for enterprises.
As an example, Kamesh Pemmaraju, vice president of product management at ZeroStack, noted in a recent blog post that the ability to scale the use of containers across an organization remains a “pain point.”
Pemmaraju specifically cited the ability for enterprises to deploy Kubernetes-orchestrated clusters across a diverse infrastructure base. This includes companies running cloud operations across private cloud, public cloud, and bare metal deployments.
“In this situation, automating infrastructure deployment, setting up, configuring, and upgrading Kubernetes to work consistently is not going to be easy,” Pemmaraju explained.
So Easy, It’s Complex
These challenges have stunted the growth and deployment of containers and Kubernetes in real-world production environments.
The Cloud Foundry Foundation last September released a survey that showed the percentage of respondents using containers at their company had increased from 22 percent in 2016, to 25 percent in 2017. Those evaluating use of containers increased from 31 percent to 42 percent.
However, when compared to a similar survey conducted by Evans Data earlier in the year, the Cloud Foundry Foundation report indicated slower-than-expected adoption of containers over the past year.
“There has been no dramatic increase in broad deployment of containers by companies over the past year,” the CFF report noted. “We see a significant increase in interest among Cloud Foundry Foundation survey participants (Evans does not), but actual adoption and deployment has seen either marginal growth or even a significant drop, based on Evans data.”
Abby Kearns, executive director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, said that while the results did indicate tepid adoption of containers, the pace is understandable.
“It has taken longer and has been harder than expected,” Kearns said. She explained that while container technology was mature, organizations are still struggling to integrate the digital transformation mindset.
“The technology is the easy part,” Kearns said. “It’s building internal organizations to work together on deployment models that’s been the challenge. These all take time to get into place and we are just starting to see that growth.”
Similar challenges have faced Kubernetes. The Kubernetes project has made easing deployment and management a core focus of its most recent code updates. The 1.10 release, which was unveiled late last month, included those efforts.
But, with a rapid three-month update pace, the Kubernetes model is moving a bit fast for enterprises.
“Kubernetes moves fast, probably too fast for enterprises,” explained Mike Cohen, senior director of project management for data center at Cisco. “If you’re not upgrading every few weeks, you find yourself running an outdated version.”
These challenges have led to a thriving business for vendors to offer professional services to support deployment of containers and Kubernetes. And I expect the Cloud Foundry Summit to highlight all of the opportunities possible for organizations that look to take advantage of these types of professional services.
The event schedule is obviously heavy on use cases and examples of customers and developers using various Cloud Foundry’s platform to great success. However, there are also a number of other cloud providers, operators, and vendors on the docket. And there are keynote and session topics that I hope will provide some real insight into how to solve the deployment challenges.
Perhaps it’s unfair to put too much pressure on the Cloud Foundry event. But, with such an apparent opportunity in the market to advance containers and Kubernetes, I hope my expectations will be met.