Cowen and Company predicts that Red Hat and Microsoft will be winners when it comes to growth in enterprise container adoption, while VMware could face some challenges long term.
“We continue to view Red Hat, which put containers at the core of its stack several years ago as the best positioned to take advantage of growing container adoption,” said Gregg Moskowitz, managing director and senior research analyst at Cowen, in a video tied to the report. He added that the firm expects Red Hat’s OpenShift platform to surge past $300 million in revenues in fiscal 2019.
Red Hat’s management recently stated that it had more than 650 customers using the OpenShift platform. Moskowitz added that market checks have indicated that the OpenShift platform has been pulling along additional Red Hat products, including its flagship Enterprise Linux (RHEL) platform.
Microsoft is also expected to see a similar boost, driven by broad enterprise use of its Azure cloud platform. The computing giant recently noted it has seen a 10x increase in Kubernetes usage on Azure.
VMware, on the other hand, could be impacted long term by the increased use of containers in production environments.
“We believe VMware continues to underplay the container movement,” Moskowitz said. “The good news for VMware is that we think most organizations will initially deploy containers within a vSphere environment. That should enable them to navigate the container threat over the medium term. Nevertheless, there is some long-term risk for vSphere in our view.”
VMware’s vSphere is a server vitualization platform that can manage large-scale, virtual machine (VM) deployments.
The Cowen report also noted that while the container ecosystem has witnessed tremendous growth over the past 12 months, the next 12 months will see that growth move toward actual production deployments. This will be due to the efficiency benefits gained from the move.
“Containers have a far reaching impact on technology,” Moskowitz said. “Containerization represents a meaningful shift in the development and deployment of workloads and applications, bringing significant benefits to both developers and IT teams.”
The report noted that while it expects that 12-month ramp, it could be another year before the Linux container ecosystem reaches “maturity.”
Past constraints on enterprise deployments have included an immature ecosystem, underdeveloped use cases, a lack of qualified developers, and legacy mindsets at organizations.
“However, we believe that many of these barriers have been largely overcome, and expect to see meaningfully accelerating levels of adoption within the next 12 months, and for many years ahead,” the report states.
Cowen conducted a broader cloud-based survey that found that of organizations familiar with cloud migration techniques, 91 percent were either already deploying containers or expect to do so over the next 2 years. 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.
Moskowitz also referenced a 451 Research report from last year that predicted the container market will grow from a $762 million business in 2016 to a nearly $2.7 billion business by 2020.
“We think the true value of containers in terms of stimulating broader IT infrastructure spend is clearly greater than this,” Moskowitz said.
Also helping to spur growth has been the consolidation around Kubernetes as the container orchestration platform of choice. A year ago, Kubernetes was still duking it out with the likes of Docker Inc.’s Swarm, platforms from Mesosphere, and proprietary products from cloud providers. It has since become the de facto standard for orchestration and is driving growth.
“We believe that the stability this brings, along with the dominance of Docker as a containerization application, should enable more organizations to move ahead with their deployments without fear of investing in any soon-to-be-obsolete technologies,” the report noted.
A recent study from cloud security platform provider Sysdig found that Kubernetes had padded its lead as the orchestrator of choice for Docker-based containers. Use of Kubernetes surged from 43 percent last year to 51 percent this year. Docker Inc.’s own Swarm orchestrator saw a bump in use from 7 percent to 11 percent. Both took a bite from Mesos-based orchestrators like Marathon and DC/OS, which saw usage plunge from 9 percent last year to just 4 percent in the latest study.