IDC Survey Finds Containers Driving Mission-Critical Apps

A survey of 301 IT leaders conducted by International Data Corp. (IDC) finds that, increasingly, they are comfortable using containers within mission-critical applications.

According to the survey, 76 percent are now broadly making use of containers within mission-critical applications. Another 22 percent say they have adopted them within mission-critical applications on a more limited basis. IDC had forecasted that more than 1.8 billion enterprise container instances would be deployed by 2021.

The survey also finds that 55 percent of IT leaders say they have deployed containers on-premises, while 45 percent report deploying them in a public cloud. The most widely cited operating system for deploying containers is Windows Server 2016 (55 percent), followed by Oracle Linux (36 percent) and VMware Photon (33 percent). Ubuntu Server and VMware Integrated Containers tied at 25 percent.

Jenny Fong, director of product marketing for Docker Inc., says the rate at which containers are being deployed now on Windows is occurring much faster than they were initially deployed on Linux. Many of those initial instances involve existing applications that are being containerized as Microsoft gears up to retire older editions of Windows Server, she says.

The survey also finds 54 percent of containers run existing applications today versus 46 percent being employed to run new applications. A full 75 percent of existing applications running in them required no to moderate modifications, while 25 percent required significant modifications. Many of these applications (58 percent) will continue to be refactored and modernized over time.

The IDC survey also finds 88 percent of organizations are deploying them on multiple operating systems. On average, organizations are employing four operating systems, and 51 percent of respondents say they have deployed containers on both Windows and Linux containers. A full 83 percent say they are also employing them on multiple public clouds. Survey respondents are using 3.7 clouds on average.

It turns out that cybersecurity is starting to drive container adoption. While cybersecurity is a concern whenever organizations adopt new technologies, the top benefit cited by respondents was improved security (35 percent), followed by improved operations management at 32 percent. Rather than solely being of benefit to developers, both IT operations and cybersecurity teams are starting to see the benefits of adopting them in production environments, the survey shows.

In fact, Fong notes that, rather than being driven from the bottom up, adoption is now being mandated by senior IT leaders that are under pressure to make IT more agile. It may take a while for containers to permeate the enterprise. But it’s clear enterprise IT organizations are becoming increasingly at ease with containers. They may not have completely mastered every aspect of deploying, managing and securing containers—for example, Fong notes many IT organizations are now starting to struggle with issues such as container cluster sprawl—but the days when containers were considered a nascent emerging technology in the enterprise are now clearly over.

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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