Why Containers? Success Stories from the Real World
You’ve heard about “containers”, but you may be a bit hazy about the business benefits this technology can bring to a cloud service provider’s (CSP) business. You’ve got virtual machines (VMs) down pat and are not sure how that experience will translate to containers in terms of security, networking, logging, monitoring, integration, container management, and internal skill sets. While these are valid concerns that must be addressed, the fact remains that container technology is one of the hottest trends in the industry.
According to 451 Research, the container market will grow from $762 million in 2016 to $2.7 billion in 2020. Despite making up a relatively small portion of the overall Cloud-Enabling Technologies market, 451’s report indicates that containers will experience the fastest growth compared to other segments, with an estimated CAGR of 40% through 2020. Analysts’ estimates show that 54% of Fortune 100 companies1 are using Kubernetes* to some degree, across a spectrum of industries including finance, manufacturing, media, and others.
As the following vignettes illustrate, CSPs that have already adopted container technology are reaping dramatic advantages from container technology – both in terms of operational efficiency and agility, and, as customer demand for container services increases, in terms of new revenue streams and customer loyalty.
Google Has Been Doing Containers for a Decade
Google calls containers the “Google way.” Having created Kubernetes* (and two container management systems before that, Borg and Omega), Google knows a lot about the merits of containers. “Containerization allows our development teams to move fast, deploy software efficiently, and operate at an unprecedented scale,” states the company’s web site, going on to say that Google developers launch two billion containers every week (that’s about 3,300 containers every second).2
Using containers, Google’s developers enjoy the ability to create predictable environments that are isolated from other applications, as well as greater agility and productivity. All this, says Google, “eases development, testing, deployment, and overall management of applications”.
While containers provide lots of internal benefits, Google has extended those by providing the Google Kubernetes* Engine to Google customers – and GKE usage increased 9x in 2017, compared to the prior year, driving increased revenue and customer satisfaction.1
Amazon Web Services Isn’t Far Behind
Tired of app development taking weeks or months? Dismayed at inconsistent development environment configurations? At Amazon Web Services (AWS), developers are using containers to reduce deployment friction and configuration drift3 “Sharing an app, part of an app, or developing for an app is made radically simple with the use of containers,” stated an AWS DevOps engineer. In addition, booting a container can take a mere fraction of a second – much faster than booting a VM.
Like Google, AWS has found plenty of customer demand for containers as well. From 2016 to 2017, AWS saw a 400% increase in customers running containers on AWS’ EC2 Container Service (ECS), which first became generally available in 2014.4
Smaller CSPs Also Adopting Container Technology5
Digital Ocean, which was recently named to Forbes’ 2017 Cloud 100 List6, uses containers to encapsulate software and services in a lightweight manner to allow for portable development environments and flexible production setups. These, says one DigitalOcean network administrator, can all be linked and networked together to share data as needed. “Some of my setups are now a hundred times easier to run. Deploying is quicker, workflow makes more sense, isolated services are easier to organise, and I can get more out of less”, said the admin.
On May 2, 2018, DigitalOcean expanded their cloud service offerings to include DigitalOcean Kubernetes*, in early preview now, and planned to be widely available later this year.7
Take the Next Step – Intel Can Help
As with any new technology, it makes sense to start small and evolve. Start using containers for less critical projects at first, then as your confidence and skills increase, begin to expand. Also explore whether your infrastructure is ready for containers. As Google’s experience shows, as adoption of container technology increases throughout your organization, the number of containers launched can grow exponentially. High performance Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors enable greater container densities, low latencies and better server utilization, resulting in lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Intel® field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) can accelerate containerized workloads.
Intel can help with the challenges of securing your container platform and ensuring it has the performant hardware layer that underpins profitable services. Through the Intel® Cloud Insider Program (Intel® CIP), you can explore using containers to both streamline your own development projects and expand your service offerings. This program provides the opportunity to experiment with the latest hardware and cloud technologies, attend cloud technology training courses and garner insights from subject matter experts on new cloud technologies and opportunities.
For more information about containers and other cloud service provider resources, visit intel.com/csp.