CNCF Survey Finds Increased Dependency on Containers, Kubernetes

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) this week published the results of a global survey of 1,324 IT professionals that finds 92% of respondents are now running containers in production environments, with 83% reporting they are also employing Kubernetes in those environments. That compares to last year’s results that showed 84% that were running containers and 78% that were running Kubernetes in production environments.

Announced during the online KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2020 conference, the survey results also show that 55% of respondents have now deployed stateful container applications in production, with another 11% planning to deploy them in the next 12 months. Another 12% are evaluating them, according to the survey. That shift suggests IT organizations are finally moving well beyond employing containers and Kubernetes to only run stateless applications.

The size of those IT environments, however, is holding steady. A total of 81% of respondents this year again report they are also using more than 20 virtual or physical machines in their container environments. Not surprisingly, 41% cited both complexity and cultural change as the top two challenges they face.

Surprisingly, the survey finds only a slight increase in the use of public clouds (64%), which compares to 62% a year ago. Private cloud or on-premises usage, conversely, increased to 52% from 45%. Hybrid decreased slightly, to 36% from 38% in 2019. Multi-cloud usage (26%) was a new survey option this year.

Despite that level of adoption, however, the survey also notes that application release cycles for container applications have become slightly faster, with 29% of respondents reporting they release software at least once a day. That’s up from 27% a year ago. A quarter of respondents release code weekly. Use of continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platforms is widespread among survey respondents, at 84%.

The survey also finds 27% of respondents are using a service mesh in production, a 50% increase over last year. Another 19% are planning to use one in the next 12 months, while 23% are evaluating a service mesh.

More than a third (37%) are also using a service proxy in production, with 13% planning to do so in the next 12 months, while 12% are evaluating one. The top providers for 2020 are NGINX (62%), Envoy (37%) and HAProxy (27%).

Priyanka Sharma, general manager for the CNCF, says overall the survey shows there’s been a 50% increase in the use of software across all the projects CNCF oversees. Kubernetes (83%), Prometheus (69%) and Helm (67%) are the most used graduated projects in production environments, while etcd (62%), container network interface (40%) and gRPC (35%) are the most used incubating projects in production. The most used sandbox projects in production are Flux (8%), OpenEBS (8%) and Network Service Mesh (7%).

The top three projects being evaluated by respondents are OpenTelemetry (20%), Service Mesh Interface (14%) and OpenMetrics (14%).

During the event, Sharma also paid tribute to the late Dan Kohn, a co-founder of the CNCF who passed away last month. Kohn was a titan of the open source community who worked tirelessly with the rest of The Linux Foundation to create the CNCF, says Sharma.

It will be interesting to see to what degree CNCF continues to attract additional open source projects following Google’s recent decision to create a separate governance board for the open source Istio service mesh it developed alongside IBM and Lyft. In the meantime, however, the rate at which open source software is now driving innovation across the cloud-native ecosystem continues to accelerate.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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