Best of 2020: VMware Releases State of Kubernetes 2020 Report

As we close out 2020, we at Container Journal wanted to highlight the five most popular articles of the year. Following is the fourth in our series of the Best of 2020.

VMware has announced the availability of its “State of Kubernetes 2020 Report,” which surveyed 247 individuals actively using Kubernetes within a company of 1,000 or more employees. Performed by Dimensional Research and commissioned by VMware, the report offers a unique window into the experience and attitudes of those implementing Kubernetes in practice. The study targetted companies with large development teams, with 24% having more than 2,500 developers. Here, we summarize some key findings from the report.

Kubernetes Experiences Exponential Growth

The most profound finding is that Kubernetes use has skyrocketed significantly, to 48% this year from 27% in 2018. Adoption doesn’t ubiquitously cover all application instances, however—57% of surveyed adopters operate fewer than 10 Kubernetes clusters, and 60% run less than half of their containerized workloads on Kubernetes.

Interestingly, on average, Kubernetes is not often deployed in the cloud. The report shows a high rate of on-premises Kubernetes deployments, at 60%. Vendor cloud deployments follow at 42%, and other modes trail. These numbers are likely due to enterprise environments testing new technologies on-premises with established virtual environments.

We’re Still Early On

If we continue to break apart adoption trends within a company, we find segmented usage rates. Fifty-seven percent are running fewer than 10 Kubernetes clusters, while 59% of respondents are running Kubernetes in production and only 20% of those have more than 50 Kubernetes clusters. Adoption rates are strong, yet there is still much room for growth.

It’s important to remember Kubernetes is only 5 years old. “Kubernetes is young, and enterprise adoption is in the early stages,” notes the writers of the report. We will likely see Kubernetes replacing antiquated container orchestration tools in the coming years, increasing overall adoption throughout organizations.

Kubernetes Brings Significant Benefits

One area of the survey asked stakeholders what sort of benefits they were reaping, having adopted Kubernetes. A full 95% of respondents report clear benefits from adopting Kubernetes, with 56% of respondents cite resource utilization as a top Kubernetes benefit and 53% of respondents say shortened software development cycles is a top benefit.

Other benefits include containerizing monolithic applications, enabling a move to the cloud and reducing public cloud costs. In general, the report demonstrates positive outcomes across the board to both development and operations.

Key Kubernetes Decision-Makers

The “State of Kubernetes 2020 Report” is interesting in that it reveals who exactly is helming the decision to move to Kubernetes. Development teams are still the primary decision-makers, at 38%. In addition, 83% of respondents express that more than one team is involved in choosing a Kubernetes distribution. Interestingly, 18% of the time, C-level executives are involved, possibly reflecting the excitement around Kubernetes and its importance to business strategy as a whole.

The report also uncovers hurdles found in Kubernetes adoption—40% cite a lack of internal alignment as a challenge when selecting a Kubernetes distribution. The report also exposes a general lack of experience in this sector—70% and 67% of respondents cite a knowledge gap on Kubernetes management and deployment techniques as a challenge for the introduction. Other shared issues include integrating Kubernetes with existing infrastructure and struggling to meet security compliance requirements.

Is Kubernetes Worth It?

It should be noted the sample size of the report is slightly skewed toward technology and financial services companies. Still, many other sectors were represented including education, manufacturing and health care, providing a broad breadth of data.

“There is a clear shift across all industries from a preoccupation with infrastructure to a laser focus on application development,” according to the report. To increase developer productivity and accelerate deployment timelines, it seems Kubernetes is quite helpful.

However, the report exposes a disconnect between C-level executives and lower developers—49% of executives find that the integration of new and existing technology is the biggest impediment to developer productivity, whereas only 29% of developers think so. However, 29% of developers have found access to infrastructure as a top hurdle. Nonetheless, 55% of developers do have self-service access to Kubernetes resources, accelerating development.

Report Takeaways

  • Substantial Kubernetes growth.
  • Clear evidence of production use in enterprise environments.
  • On-premises is still the most common deployment method.
  • Though there are pain points, most developers and executives alike feel Kubernetes is worth it.

Stakeholders can view the report in its entirety here.

Bill Doerrfeld

Bill Doerrfeld is a tech journalist and analyst. His beat is cloud technologies, specifically the web API economy. He began researching APIs as an Associate Editor at ProgrammableWeb, and since 2015 has been the Editor at Nordic APIs, a high-impact blog on API strategy for providers. He loves discovering new trends, interviewing key contributors, and researching new technology. He also gets out into the world to speak occasionally.

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