Survey Finds Containers Forcing IT Platform Decisions

A survey published today by Diamanti, a provider of bare-metal servers optimized for containers, finds that nearly half (47 percent) of IT leaders surveyed said they plan to deploy containers in a production environment, while another 12 percent say they already have.

More than a third of those survey respondents (34 percent) say they plan to allocate at least $100,000 to those projects in 2018, with 44 percent citing a desire to replace some of their virtual machines as major reason for adopting containers.

Diamanti CEO Jeff Chou says that while Diamanti doesn’t expect virtual machines to disappear anytime soon, it is clear IT organizations are starting to appreciate potential cost savings engendered by the adoption of containers. Today, most containers are deployed on top of virtual machines. But as open source container orchestration engine platforms such as Kubernetes continue to mature, it becomes more practical to deploy them on bare-metal servers.

The primary motivation for making that decision spans everything from performance and reducing the overall size of the attack surface that needs to be defended from cyberattacks to eliminating the need to pay licensing fees for commercial virtual machine software. The survey finds that primary reasons for replacing virtual machines with containers are: management overhead (59 percent), performance (39 percent) and VMware licensing fees (38 percent). According to the survey results, more than half (55 percent) of respondents spend more than $100,000 annually on VMware licensing fees.

The survey also finds 71 percent of respondents have deployed containers on a virtual machine, while 35 percent have deployed them on a public cloud and 34 percent have deployed containers on a private cloud. Diamanti is betting that as more organizations deploy containers in a production environment, interest in bare-metal servers to run those containers in an on-premises environment will increase sharply. There are still broad swaths of containerized applications that for performance, security and compliance reasons will always need to run on-premises, notes Chou.

The survey finds that the two biggest application use cases for containers cited by respondent are cloud-native (54 percent) followed by stateless applications (39 percent). The next three use cases cited are cloud migration (32 percent), modernizing legacy applications (31 percent) and database (30 percent). Deployment of databases on containers that typically need to meet service level agreements (SLAs) that require direct access to persistent storage will especially force the bare-metal server issue inside IT organizations.

Chou says the biggest issue with convincing IT organizations to embrace bare-metal servers to run those applications is simple inertia. IT operations teams prefer to manage as many workloads on the same virtual machine platform as possible. In fact, many IT organizations are so entrenched in a virtual machine platform that no one on staff even knows how to provision a bare-metal server, adds Chou.

Nevertheless, the survey finds the two platforms with the most to lose during the transition to containers are VMware (40 percent) and Microsoft (20 percent). Those results align with a survey of IT services providers Diamanti released earlier this year.

Both VMware and Microsoft have embraced containers to varying degrees, but, as is often the case whenever new technologies emerge, there’s always a significant opportunity to disrupt the status quo. In fact, the two vendors cited as having the most to gain from this transition are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Docker Inc.

Naturally, it remains to be seen how all this shifting of workloads across IT platforms plays out in the year ahead. But one thing for certain is thanks to the rise of containers, IT organizations have never had more options.

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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