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Containers to capture 15% of all enterprise apps across 75% of business by 2024

But the real money is in services and IaaS, not software, says Gartner’s first lash at container futures

Analyst firm Gartner has completed its first forecast for container management software and services, finding that while adoption will be rapid the technology won't be a big money-spinner for software vendors.

In a new document, titled Forecast Analysis: Container Management (Software and Services) Worldwide, announced today, the analyst firm predicts swift growth revenue growth for the likes of Red Hat, Rancher and VMware, with this year's sales of $465.8m to become $944m in 2024.

But that's less than the annual revenue of $1bn Gartner expects IaaS providers will win from hosting containers by 2022. It's also less than VMware's annual cash haul for supposedly legacy compute virtualisation products.

It's not all tepid news for the containerised crowd. The analyst firm predicts that before 2024 containers will become "the default choice for 75 per cent of new custom enterprise applications", with the result that 15 per cent of all apps use containers by the same year. That's up from five per cent today.

That 75 per cent figure pops up again in the prediction that by 2024 that number of large enterprises in mature economies will use containers in production, up from fewer than 35 per cent today.

But Gartner thinks that growth isn't a great sign of container-mania, because a combination of technical debt, application backlogs and budget constraints mean organisations will prioritise other work. For many, the unavoidable need to do things like migrate SAP HANA to the cloud will simply deserve more attention.

The winners from container adoption will therefore be development consultancies doing the work on containerised apps, who have between $10bn and $15bn in play.

The report's author, Gartner research vice-president Michael Warrilow, told The Register his research suggested that today's container users are most likely to be either a large financial services concern or a cloud-native company with fewer than 10 employees.

He also said that containers are most likely to be associated with development of new bespoke applications. Organisations looking to re-factor apps can do so more easily with virtual machines. Which goes some way towards explaining the cloud migration marketing pushes currently under way at AWS, Azure, Google and other big clouds. ®

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