Associate Research Director European Systems and Infrastructure Solutions
Whenever I go to an industry conference on infrastructure topics (see the most recent edition of VMworld Europe), the most amazing thing happens. Nobody talks about their infrastructure products. (Okay, in frankness… ALMOST nobody). What every supplier is pushing now is support for containers.
Software containers are a virtualization technology abstracting operating systems (OS) from the applications, making each application “believe” that it is the only application installed and running on that OS.
Whilst this class of technology is not new (Web hosters like 1&1 have been using it with Parallels Virtuozzo for years), it was pushed to the forefront in the last two years thanks to exploding popularity of Dockers, the most common modern container format. According to 560 IT European operations managers interviewed by IDC, the principal expected benefits are cloud adaptability, savings from software licensing, and modernization of test and development environments. For developers who are in the driving seat, it’s all about application portability and speed of deployment.
Large container users in Europe at the moment include Webscale environments (e.g. Spotify), as well as Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that are repackaging their applications for SaaS delivery (e.g. Sage). Media and B2C enterprises are the other camps, adopting containers to support customer-facing Web front-end.
At least on paper, containers have the potential of replacing hypervisor-type virtualization by offering another way to abstract applications. So far however, IT operation teams perceive the two technologies as complementary. In the aforementioned survey, running containers “virtualized and on premise” was the preferred way of dealing with those environments and IDC predicts that globally between 2016 and 2020 more than 80% of newly deployed containers will be hosted on Virtual Machines in on-premise enterprise environments.
Coexistence won’t be 100% smooth. In hyperscale environments, for example, bare metal container deployments are more prevalent due to large open source teams and the goal of maintaining higher deployment performance. Even in enterprises, provisioning, managing and securing containers on top of hypervisors requires toolsets and practices that are only now starting to mature.
Like misbehaving kids, these two technologies will have to sit on the same bench for some time – this won’t stop elbowing each other for room though.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Containers will impact infrastructure in European datacenters, please join us in London at the Novotel Excel on Dec 1st 2016, for a complimentary IDC Infrastructure Breakfast Briefing !
If you have immediate questions, please contact Giorgio Nebuloni.