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Container adoption still low, barks Cloud Foundation

Lots of benefits, but can be time-consuming

Updated It's no secret that switching to containers is difficult. According to some IT pros contacted by containerization tech firm Cloud Foundry [PDF], it's so difficult that their adoption is still dragging in the enterprise sector.

The benefits of packing software and services inside of containers are clear: your code becomes much easier to install and run on multiple platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The teeny tiny problem is that configuring and managing the services, instead of dropping it inside a resource-hogging but easy-to-use virtual machine, can be very time-consuming.

Last year, the CEO of automation firm Puppet told us there was "a lot of hype" around containers. Cloud Foundry's 2016 IT pro survey [PDF] found that 22 per cent of 711 respondents reported that their firms were actually using them in production.

This year's survey [PDF] of 540 found that a mere 25 per cent reported that their firms were using containers in production.

The firm drew upon IT pros from an online panel with at least two years of experience. Respondents were spread throughout 18 different industry categories including manufacturing, financial services and government.

As a caveat, Cloud Foundry did not calculate a margin of error for its results and admits the representativeness of the survey is "unknown." A spokesperson for Cloud Foundry also confirmed to The Register via email that it did not design the survey to weed out respondents from identical companies, although because responses were grouped into different geographies and industries, it believes it is "highly unlikely" the same firm would have been reached "more than one or two times."

Cloud Foundry freely admits in its report that other surveys with different methodologies might give you a different interpretation on container adoption.

An April survey by Portworx, for example, found that about 32 per cent of the 491 IT pros it surveyed reported their companies spending over $500,000 per year on container tech license and usage fees.

Datadog's data on about 10,000 companies found that Docker adoption has jumped to 18.8 per cent in April 2017, up about 40 per cent from 13.6 the beginning of March 2016.

But Cloud Foundry is convinced in its resolve that things are slow.

"Enterprises are the colossal cargo ships of the industry – they move slowly, steadily and with a rigorous navigation system," Cloud Foundry's executive director Abby Kearns wrote in a blog post. "They cannot always afford to be as flexible or lithe as a smaller company, so it takes time to evaluate new technologies before implementation."

Dirk Riehle, a computer scientist at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany who studies software development practices but was not involved in the survey, told The Register via email that he was "slightly surprised" by the results. He cautioned that because Cloud Foundry doesn't know if it's a representative sample, it "may or may not be true," but said it was "probably realistic." ®

Updated on 12 September to add: A spokesperson for Cloud Foundry also confirmed to The Register that 95 per cent of the firms represented in the results are unique.

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