The container ecosystem received a strong boost over the past week thanks to news coming from the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, and comments from Google about the robust adoption of containers and Kubernetes. But an enterprise survey also released this week questioned when those good vibes will turn into production-level progress in the market.
First, let’s look at the glass as half full.
The OpenStack Summit rang with news regarding the rise of containers and Kubernetes. This was perhaps highlighted most by a big announcement from AT&T in the space. Tied to the event, the telecom giant revealed some posh details on its plans to re-architect its telco cloud platform to be 100 percent container based.
The carrier, which admittedly has been one of the more aggressive telecom operators in pushing a software-forward agenda, made the announcement even better by tapping a new OpenStack project called Airship. (It’s all about that branding!)
The basis of the announcement was that AT&T was evolving its network cloud, via Airship, to fully containerize the OpenStack control plane. This involves implementing a declarative platform to run OpenStack on Kubernetes in a move to increase scale, speed, resiliency, and flexibility. (And did I mention Airship?)
“Airship is the foundation of AT&T’s network cloud that will run our 5G core, supporting the late 2018 launch of 5G service in 12 cities,” Amy Wheelus, AT&T’s vice president of cloud and Domain 2.0 platform integration, told SDxCentral Managing Editor Linda Hardesty.
Ryan van Wyk, assistant vice president of cloud platform development at AT&T, hinted at the move late last year, noting that the carrier would rely more heavily on containers and Kubernetes to power its next-generation telco cloud platform.
Beyond the AT&T hype, SDxCentral also found that a good portion of conversations at the OpenStack Summit this week were around containers and container platforms.
Further highlighting the rise of containers, Google earlier this week said it has seen a 9x surge in core hour use of its Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) over the past year. And that increase is all from external usage.
That reported surge followed comments earlier this month from Gabe Monroy, project manager lead for containers at Microsoft Azure, who said the company has seen a 10-fold increase in Kubernetes usage on Azure.
Production Not Happening
But, while AT&T’s container push and the comments from Google and Microsoft lent credence to the maturity of the platform, a recent survey from Cowen showed that while interest in containers was high, actual container usage in production environments remains low.
The survey found that of organizations that are familiar with cloud migration techniques, 91 percent were either already deploying containers or expect to do so over the next 2 years. That sounds pretty positive.
However, that number was heavily weighted toward those expecting to deploy, as only 18 percent of those surveyed said they had or were in the process of deploying containers in a production environment. Hmmm.
That sentiment was echoed at the recent Gluecon developers conference in Broomfield, Colorado. Attendees were asked during one session to indicate both their use of containers for development as well as their company’s use of containers in a production environment. There were a lot of hands raised for the first option, but only a handful for the second.
And from my own conversations with both vendors and enterprises, containers are a highly sought after target that seems to remain just out of reach for many. There seems to be so much potential, but it’s just lacking that last push to make it a production reality for more than just elite organizations with the resources to bridge the gap from development to production.
This is of course good news for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) vendors that are more than happy to tout those production challenges, as they also just happen to have the right product to solve that production dilemma.
I hope my perception on this gap will change shortly as I am set to attend the upcoming DockerCon event in San Francisco. That event is sure to follow recent trends with a lot of hype around how awesome containers are and plenty of use cases from companies extolling the benefits of taking the plunge into containers.
But, I worry that those use case subjects will likely represent that 18 percent of forward-leaning organizations with the resources and nerve to take the plunge. Until the ecosystem can more pointedly address concerns from the other 82 percent, containers will remain just another tantalizing technology lacking a clear path to production.