Open source container software shipments set to quadruple by 2022: report

IHS Markit's latest container survey says total container software units will grow at a 30% CAGR by 2022. (IHS Markit)

Thanks to increased adoption by telcos and enterprises, total container software units shipments will grow at a 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2022.

That 30% increase quadruples the container software units shipped last year, according to the "Data Center Multi-Tenant Server Software" report from IHS Markit. Hyperscale cloud service providers such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook pioneered the initial adoption of container software in their data centers (DCs), and already run container operating systems in virtual machines in a third of their multi-tenant servers. By comparison, telcos and enterprises run container software in only 5% of their multi-tenant servers today, according to the report.

“Drivers behind the growth of container software include the need to evolve application architectures and provide increased agility and portability for software development practices. Container software allows developers to hand off applications from the coding table to the enterprise data center for testing and finally move a fully tested application to the cloud,” said IHS Markit's Vladimir Galabov, senior analyst, in a prepared statement. “A properly containerized application is easy to scale and maintain, makes efficient use of available system resources and is portable.”

By 2022, over 55% of the multi-tenant servers in hyperscale communications service provider (CSP) data centers will run container software. This compares to 31% of Tier II CSPs in 2022. As a result, total container software shipments are expected to hit over 4 million units in four years

“Since CSPs led the adoption of container software, most of the 2017 deployments were of open source container software, managed in house,” Galabov said. "Only 17% of the container software deployed in 2017 was commercially supported. By comparison 47% of the virtualization software deployed in 2017 was commercially supported, reflecting the maturity of the technology, which is the main enabler of multi-tenancy at enterprises and telcos. Just under 40% of enterprises and over 50% of telcos opted for multi-tenant servers in 2017 with virtualization software as a primary enabler of multi-tenancy in 99% of the cases."

According to Galabov, there are numerous signs that the commercial container software market is maturing including consolidation—with Red Hat buying CoreOS— and a growing number of partnerships between CSPs and container software vendors. For example, Red Hat has announced three service provider partnerships with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and IBM.

Earlier this year, OPNFV's sixth software release, which is called "Fraser," added more support for Kubernetes integration while CableLabs' SDN/NFV Development Platform and Stack Project (SNAPS) project also includes support for containers and Kubernetes.

RELATED: OPNFV's Fraser release brings NFV closer to cloud native integration

Vendors have also gotten on the Kubernetes bandwagon. Last month, VMware announced its Kubernetes as a service offering for multicloud while Kubernetes was also discussed in depth at Cisco Live in June.

In an email to FierceTelecom, Galabov said there were two subcategories that IHS Markit tracks. The first, open source container operating system, provides container runtime including physical server resource abstraction and isolation between applications. It can be provided by overlaying a container runtime module on standard server OS. Examples of companies or open source organizations in this space include Docker, Core OS rkt, cri-o, Pouch, containerd, Open Container Initiative (OCI), Intel and Clear Containers

The second subcategory is open source container management, which enables the storage, deployment, running and migration of containers and can provide version control and shared policy infrastructure. Examples of companies in the second category include Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Apache Mesos and Nomad.

"We are definitely seeing Kubernetes establish itself as a de facto standard for open source container management." Galabov said. "In our 'self-managed open source' category the biggest contributors to the unit shipments are Kubernetes, Amazon ECS (Elastic Container Service), Microsoft Azure Service Fabric, Docker Swarm, Apache Mesos and Nomad.

"It’s worth mentioning that the number of open source contributors, including Docker’s Swarm, Nomad and Apache Mesos, are very small. In my conversations with the vendors they said that enterprise customers prefer commercially supported container management."

Other market highlights from the report:

• In the first quarter of this year, VMware kept the top spot in revenue market share with 47% followed by Microsoft  (13%), and Red Hat was (12.7%).

• Multi-tenant servers represented 62% of total servers shipped in 1Q18

• Containers on bare metal servers represented 2% of total multi-tenant servers in 2017.

• Hypervisors running virtual machined that contain a container OS accounted for 18% of total first quarter hypervisors deployed.