Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas. Audience questions and conversations my Robin colleagues and I had with conference attendees confirmed the growing interest in the use of containers for databases and other applications. It prompted me to revisit the results of a survey Robin conducted earlier this year when we asked IT professionals what they think about the use of containers. The accompanying infographic highlights those survey results.
So what did I hear at Gartner that was consistent with the results of our survey? Five points stood out.
- The containerization movement is nearly unstoppable. When I attended the Gartner event in 2015 I heard some anecdotal interest in containers, but this year it was stronger. This was consistent with our survey results, in which more than 4 out of 5 respondents expected their companies to increase their spend in container-based technology.
- CIOs want to containerize stateful applications. What we found surprising in the survey but which was confirmed at Gartner is that the interest in using containers goes beyond stateless microservices applications to stateful and traditional enterprise applications. Containers have gained an incredible level of mindshare among developers, and there is a near unanimity that technology such as Docker’s will soon become the standard way to pack and deploy applications.
- Active interest in running databases within containers. The survey results on this point were a bit surprising — 3 out of 4 respondents said they are actively looking to run databases and Big Data applications within containers. At the time that was higher than we expected, but our Gartner conversations were consistent with this. The drivers we have heard cited include the ability to consolidate workload without losing performance or predictability, and to reduce performance overhead as leading factors prompting greater adoption of containers.
- It isn’t all about Docker. The other surprising survey finding is the vibrant container technology landscape. While Docker is certainly getting its share of interest and adoption, system container technologies such as LXC and LXD remain as the preferred containerization technology for running data-centric applications, with 60 percent citing their use. That is understandable because, unlike application containers technology such as Docker that are designed to run a single process or service, System Containers are essentially lightweight VMs that can run multiple services and applications, have their own host name and IP addresses that you can SSH into, and pretty much manage like VMs. The use of System Containers with data applications therefore provides many of the benefits of a hypervisor-based virtualization but with bare metal performance and much lower management overhead because of shared OS and binaries.
- Deployment in production is real. In our survey a majority of respondents said they are using containers to some degree – 61 percent were either using them in production or were experimenting with them. My anecdotal assessment of the interest among Gartner attendees is that the number has increased.
The Gartner attendees are sophisticated IT professionals so I was gratified to hear they see the world the same way we do when it comes to containers. Performance-sensitive applications such as databases should demonstrate superior performance on a containers-based platform thanks to the ability to consolidate without compromising performance or predictability. Robin’s vision is to provide enterprises a high-performance and elastic platform for stateful and mission-critical applications. We think a containerized approach will prove the right one, and the recent conference seems to confirm that.
You can download the infographic here , and if you would like to see the results of our survey up close you can download it here. And if you have any thoughts on trends in container use I would love to hear them in the comments.