Fad? No, containers are here to stay

Containers like Docker provide the application portability and distributed environments IT has long needed

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You probably already assumed this, but RightScale's new State of the Cloud report confirms that containers -- exemplified by Docker and CoreOS -- are undergoing rapid growth. Indeed, I see the same trend in my research.

The quick uptake of containers makes a lot of sense given what they offer.

At a high level, they provide lightweight platform abstraction, without using virtualization. They're also much more efficient for creating workload bundles that are transportable from cloud to cloud. In many cases, virtualization is too cumbersome for workload migration. Thus, containers provide a real foundation for moving workloads around hybrid clouds and multiclouds, without your having to alter much, if any, of the application.

More specifically, containers provide these advantages:

  • Reduced complexity through container abstractions
  • The ability to use automation with containers to maximize their portability
  • Better security and governance from placing services around, rather than inside, containers
  • Better distributed computing capabilities, because an application can be divided into many separate domains -- all residing within containers
  • The ability to provide automation services that offer policy-based optimization and self-configuration

All told, containers provide something we've been trying to achieve for years: a standard application architecture that offers both managed distribution and service orientation.

Right now, what’s most compelling is the portability advantage of containers. But I suspect we'll discover more value over time. In fact, I suspect that containers will become a part of most IT shops, no matter whether they are moving to the cloud.

I don't say that lightly -- I know well the history of new IT technologies and processes that get a lot of attention, then fade away, revealed to be merely fads. Containers are different: They're truly a new, better way to manage applications, and they'll be part of IT for a long time to come.