Managed services based on Docker containers running on top of Kubernetes clusters are starting to proliferate beyond the reach of any single public cloud. A new survey of 576 IT leaders published by Diamanti, a provider of bare-metal servers optimized for Kubernetes, finds 71 percent of respondents have deployed containers on virtual machines, while 35 percent have deployed them on a public cloud environments, and 34 percent have deployed containers on private clouds. The biggest application use cases for containers are cloud-native applications (54 percent), followed by stateless applications (39 percent), cloud migrations (32 percent), modernizing legacy applications (31 percent), and databases (30 percent).

The survey 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 (34 percent) say they plan to allocate at least $100,000 to those projects in 2018.

Diamanti CEO Jeff Chou says given a general lack of expertise when it comes to containers he expects managed service providers to play a critical role in driving adoption. Developers are increasingly building cloud-native applications based on microservices architectures that are constructed using containers. But most IT operations teams lack any experience when it comes to deploying and managing those applications on Kubernetes clusters. Tooling is also a significant issue. Most containers today are deployed on virtual machines inside and outside of the cloud, mainly because most IT organizations do not have tooling in place that is optimized for virtual machines. But as organizations increasingly deploy containerized applications, it’s now only a matter of time before many of those applications start being deployed on bare-metal servers for reasons spanning everything from performance to virtual machine licensing fees.

The Diamanti survey finds 44 percent or respondents are looking to replace some of their virtual machines as major reason for adopting containers. The top reasons cited were 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 that the two platforms with the most to lose during the transition to containers are VMware (40 percent) and Microsoft (20 percent).  Whereas, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Docker, Inc. have the most to gain.

How MSPs will play a role

Chou says the need for virtual machines will not be eliminated any time soon. But containers running on bare-metal servers will become a more common IT scenario. The trouble is that many internal IT operations teams have long since forgotten how to configure a bare-metal server much less manage one. That issue will drive IT organizations to rely more on MSPs to manage containerized applications that will be running on both virtual machines and physical servers inside and outside of multiple clouds, says Chou.

“It’s going to be the Wild West for a while,” says Chou.

A previous Diamanti survey of IT service providers suggests many of them are already falling behind the container adoption curve. The challenge and opportunity facing MSPs now is to close that gap at a time when adoption of containerized applications in production environments is just now crossing the proverbial chasm. In fact, the race is already on. Google, for example, recently announced that it intends to make available an instance of Kubernetes running on-premises that it will remotely manage on behalf of customers. Google is making it clear that Kubernetes clusters that can run anywhere are the heart of the company’s hybrid cloud computing strategy. Rackspace has launched a similar managed Kubernetes service. Fortunately for most MSPs, even in the 21st century “the race is not given to the swift nor the strong but unto them that endure to the end.”

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Photo:  Vladimir Hodac / Shutterstock.

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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