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Just four years ago, industry analysts were wary of running production workloads in containers, but certainly the industry got over that fast. Numbers around Docker and Kubernetes adoption vary broadly, but it’s safe to say that well over half of Fortune 100 companies have embraced containers.
In this episode of The New Stack Analysts podcast, our editor in chief Alex Williams sits down with Briana Frank, director of product management at IBM, and James Ford, an independent technical strategy advisor, to reflect on the origins of containers, how Kubernetes and Docker began, and how adoption has grown so fast in only a few years.
Frank said the impetus behind rapid container adoption came from Docker allowing everyone to get started developing quickly and simply — for about ten minutes. “We can attribute a lot of the popularity of Kubernetes today to the Docker beginnings,” she said.
Ford warned that a many are so caught up in the mechanics of containers that they aren’t thinking the big picture of what possibilities they offer. He envisions a near future with “an orchestrator of orchestrators” where containers, virtual machines, and serverless converge, and where the importance of brand names will fade away.
Ford acknowledged that Kubernetes orchestration certainly outshined Docker Swarm very quickly, but argued that it was because of Swarm’s initial lack of readiness. Frank, who worked at IBM during this age of containerization, says the company will work with Docker Swarm if clients want, but that “we have doubled down on our managed service around Kubernetes” as a strategic decision.
Now that containers have gone from an experiment to an essential ingredient in most new stacks, where will it go next? Any place you see a enthusiastic contributor community, he said. Frank says this enthusiasm is driving open source projects like Kubernetes, Istio and Knative.
Ford then warned that, while this innovation is exciting, we need to worry about what is left behind when contributor attention wanders. He said that “We’re built on a lot of layers of general purpose computing” that can’t be forgotten.
Ford then offered Firecracker open source virtualization as a more secure alternative to containers in many cases because it acts as a virtual machine manager for short-lived processes. Frank argued that containers will allow us to solve security problems in a very different way, including vulnerability scans and steps that can be automated within CI/CD pipelines, but we are at the start of this potential.
Ford continued to predict that containers will be driving this security innovation as the cloud continues to fade to the edge, and where containers may be on any device including in wearables and our homes.
No matter what the future holds, both Frank and Ford agree that it’s important to follow the example of Docker’s roots in making everything easy to get started and to cultivate an enthusiastic, motivated developer base.
“If you’re learning about containers, you go learn Docker first, and I think they have the hearts and minds of developers that are really new to containers,” Frank said.
In This Episode:
1:37: The History of containers.
7:48: The ups and downs of speedy adoption.
14:21: Docker images vs. containerd.
26:32: The future of Docker.
28:53: The necessary simplification of code.
31:37: Intriguing new security tools in the ecosystem.
Feature image by Pexels.