Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, September 23, 2023

As Containers Catch On, So Too Do Storage Concerns 

Persistent storage requirements have overtaken security as the top barrier to adoption of application containers in production, according to a new adoption survey.

The container market adoption survey released Thursday (June 16) by data management software vendor ClusterHQ nevertheless found that container usage for production workloads jumped 96 percent over the last year. It also found that more than half of survey respondents report investments in container infrastructure in the last year, some spending millions of dollars to implement the technology.

As early adopters have struggled to transition container infrastructure to production, security and the isolation of individual containers from each other was the primary concern. Now, according to the adoption study conducted by, persistent storage is the top barrier to adoption.

"The biggest challenges to container deployment include persistent storage, networking, security and data management," the survey's authors noted. "However, the order of these challenges shifted in a way that runs counter to many reports. This year, persistent storage was the most oft-cited challenge and security came in third, a surprising finding based on how often security is positioned as a large concern with containers."

The survey confirms that container technology has made great strides into production environments over the past year as the technology matures and the container ecosystem booms. Seventy-nine percent of the 310 IT administrators polled said their organizations are running applications containers, with 76 percent using them for production workloads. By contrast, only 38 percent had deployed containers in production last year.

Increased efficiency was most often cited as the main reason for adopting containers (39 percent), followed closely by support for micro-services (36 percent). More than two-thirds of respondents said they have thus far achieved the expected benefits offered by containers.

In the hyper-competitive market to supply container services, the survey also offered a glimpse at who is using what. Docker remains the most popular container engine technology by a wide margin, with a whopping 94 percent of respondents using the pioneering technology.

Meanwhile, the Kubernetes platform developed by Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is the top choice (40 percent) for container orchestration and management. Docker Swarm was cited last year by half of respondents, but fell behind Kubernetes and "internally developed tools" (32 percent) in this, the second edition of the container survey sponsored by San Francisco-based ClusterHQ.

Perhaps the best illustration of explosive growth in the container ecosystem over the last 18 months is the growing list of popular container orchestration tools. Besides Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and emerging internal tools, the survey found that Amazon EC2 Container Service (24 percent) and Apache Mesos (15 percent) are gaining traction.

"This indicates that people are still experimenting with multiple container managers to figure out which is the right tool for the job," the survey sponsor noted. "The uptake in the use of Kubernetes provides market evidence that Google’s investment in the industry has paid off in a short amount of time."

To no one's surprise, Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) remains the leading cloud infrastructure for deploying containers. However, the survey also found that more in-house datacenters are being used to deliver applications via containers.

Downplaying media hype about running containers on Windows, the survey also found that Linux remains by far the dominant platform for running containers. Less than 2 percent of those polled said they were running containers on Windows.

The survey results provide "concrete evidence that container users are not only navigating this emerging ecosystem and evaluating new solutions from a business perspective, but also meeting or exceeding business and IT objectives as a result," ClusterHQ CEO Mark Davis asserted in a statement releasing the adoption survey results.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).