The Future of Containers

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The Future of Containers

Since our crystal ball is broken, we decided to ask 26 tech enterprise leaders where they think containers will go in the coming years.

· Cloud Zone ·
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To gather insights on the current and future state of containers, we talked to executives from 26 companies. We asked, "What’s the future for containers from your point of view? Where do the greatest opportunities lie?" Here's what they told us:


  • Some consolidation of niche players. More end-to-end scenarios. Packages and open source will be tied together. Flexibility to run anywhere to go serverless. 
  • Containers, serverless, FaaS going to abstraction with great tools that manage abstraction and portability layer. Turn into a service-oriented world. Call on services and provide them back to me. Pulling apart different facets of applications and lead to different abstractions. FaaS evolves from cloud-provider perspective. How to open opportunities for other software vendors for function marketplaces.
  • Serverless. CNCF is working on standards for application on the edge for AI/ML/IoT. Sometimes this will be containers and sometimes serverless. 
  • Moving from cloud to multi-cloud. K8 acceptance by multi-cloud provider solutions is becoming available. Serverless is taking off and becoming more important. People are still learning K8. It’s an extensible platform where you can run an append K8 becomes part of the app. More extension models of K8.
  • Containers will be a foundational technology, one you do not see woven into the fabric of the IT infrastructure. I do not see developers thinking actively about Docker files in five years. They’ll be using serverless and FaaS with containers on the backend. 
  • There is still work to be done to really optimize the developer experience around developing container-based applications on Kubernetes. Tools like Draft, Skaffold, and Jenkins are trying to improve things there. I'd like to see more innovation around serverless style consumption models on top of K8; to make K8 easier to use and to hide details from developers when they are not interested. e.g. so folks can just drop in source code and the rest just happens. There's also a need for more tools to help folks migrate from traditional software to containers and cloud-native applications.


  • Will organizations skip containers and go directly to FaaS like Lambda? Should I spend two years rearchitecting for containers or go directly to serverless? Need to be able to visualize all of the dependencies.


  • Modernizing legacy apps as these do not go away quickly, and they are expensive for IT to maintain. Any project that has an immediate ROI is gold for IT management. Moving a server from a VM (be that on-prem or IaaS) into a container can realize significant savings.
  • Will help with AI/ML where containerized pipelines are interacting with persistent flows. According to Ted Dunning, CTO at MapR, we are facing the “data science tool of the month” 90% of success and effort are data decisions with regards to the models being used. Accelerate time to value with different models. It’s how we’re injecting intelligence and improving agility.
  • Cost savings and security will drive adoption and more players. Looking for apps to put in our container.
  • We’re at the beginning of infrastructure as a utility. Other key services coming about include data becoming containerized, new tools arise, storage, data, database. Containers enable the portability of all of these things enabling innovation.
  • The ability for a container to easily migrate between hosts. You can see in Smart IOT architectures this would be incredible and massively simplify development.
  • Expanded APIs around Docker so you’re not just moving DLL’s around. New digital libraries with 50 machine learning models – versioning, linking, securing data. Get Chevron and Exxon building centers of excellence with APIs, management, merging containers, and compressing containers to reduce bloat. Create education addressing these issues. 2) Containers enable a new operating system at the edge and in the cloud, distributed computing, data science with K8 as the operating system. Opportunities with Kafka to act as data buses. New distributed operating system benefits new neural networks with an impending platform of platforms. Containers as big distributed operating systems.
  • Containers are here to stay, and they will become stable and mature. They will become one important layer of the infrastructure for deploying and managing applications. Containers themselves may or may not be visible to end users, but enterprises will benefit from the portability and standardization. Once containers are everywhere, future opportunities will emerge for areas such as application intelligence and performance correlation because the technology will make it easier and possible at that time.
  • Containers make it easy to go from development to deployment without having to worry about reproducibility or scalability. With the increasing importance of data science and machine learning in business, containers will make it easier to integrate these initiatives into existing business operations.
  • Resource utilization goes well beyond the infrastructure to a better way to build and run software. Containers are the best way to get there it just takes longer than you think it will.
  • Digital transformation. Years of technology built to be more agile. Need to address competition more quickly. Migrate legacy applications into a container world with data.
  • It’s still early in the adoption of containers. The biggest growth will come when companies undergo digital transformation and all of their legacy apps end up in containers or we see the massive growth of new apps that will outpace legacy apps.
  • Provide isolation, security, orchestration with an approach that is blessed by the platform vendors we work with. Frameworks are becoming more interesting and important as we are leveraging Mesos.
  • Application portability and mobility between different clouds. Moving the application is not as challenging as moving the underlying data and maintaining the underlying services. GCP (Google Cloud Provider) service broker removes the service hurdle with distributed database containers improving app mobility.
  • At this point in time, large parts of the industry are still working on determining how best to use containers and how to shift from a virtual host mindset to a containerized mindset. To that end, the greatest opportunity exists for those who are creating tools to make managing the transition to containers easier and make leveraging the power of a containerized environment more accessible.
  • A lot of the current work with containers has been focused on new application development. However, a typical enterprise will have at least a decade or more worth of existing applications that can benefit greatly from modernizing and transforming into containers and container orchestration platforms. Simplifying and automating such transformation will enable enterprises to significantly accelerate the adoption of container platforms while also lowering the cost of transformation and realization of benefits, thus opening the floodgates to new value creation while also further maturing their overall ecosystem for broader appeal and use case coverage.
  • 1) Companies adopt containers in their infrastructure because it’s easier to scale what needs to be scaled. 2) Add on services to K8 – a lot of companies will see this as a business opportunity. A service mesh that takes care of security, maintenance. Provide software and solutions to manage and run a container environment.
  • The concept is similar to object-oriented programming, DevOps, small reusable tests to improve the quality of software. Need to do things right. Improve exponentially. Opportunity to increase the quality of the software and the builds without problems.

Here’s who we spoke to:

ai, cloud, containers, faas, kubernetes, ml, modernization, serverless

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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