A year ago, Docker equaled “containers” in many minds. More recently, though, new surveys suggesting that a wider variety of containers are being deployed, with more users picking up on LXC.
When asked which type of container they used or planned to use in a ClusterHQ and DevOps.com survey published last June, 92 percent said “Docker,” while 32 percent said LXC and 21 percent mentioned CoreOS’s rkt. While survey results from Ruxit, also released last year, are lower in Docker’s favor (78 percent for Docker, 24 percent LXC, 16 percent for rkt), the overall trend also showed Docker dominance.
Fast forward to December, and a recent survey from Robin Systems appears to contradict the others. It says LXC is the preferred container platform of 43 percent of IT pros, with 39 percent stating they prefer Docker and the 18 percent picking LXD.
The variance between the surveys raises the question, why?
The differences between “preference,” “use” and “planned use” are significant. When talking to people who are starting off with a technology, they are likely to provide answers based on brand recognition rather than technical merit. Since the Ruxit and ClusterHQ surveys were conducted at the peak of the Docker hype, it is likely many people were planning to evaluate Docker partially because that was the only technology name they were aware of.
In the future, we would be interested in knowing what the percentages are for those actually using Docker, LXC and others in production.
Although they ask about preferences and not usage, we used the Robin Systems survey to focus on production users of containers and found that 45 percent prefer Docker, edging out the 39 percent that cited LXC as the preferred platform. Compared to the numbers that include planned use, this means that the more people actually use containers, the more likely they are to say Docker is their preferred format.
It is still very notable that LXC and its next-generation LXD sister would be the preferred container platform for 61 percent of IT pros. If companies are not locked in to use Docker’s core technologies, then it is reasonable that they may use another technology. Thus, the gap between planned use and preferred container platform indicates there is an opportunity to challenge Docker’s first-mover advantage.
Furthermore, as other vendors provide non-Docker solutions users will likely have a choice between container providers. In this world, the comparative strengths of LXC and Docker will get discussed among the vendor community and the debate will be heard by their customers. Therefore, it makes sense that although CoreOS may be committed to supporting runC’s formats, it is also providing rkt containers.
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