If you listen to the fanboys (and, for that matter, the fangirls) you’d be excused for thinking one of two thoughts:

  1. The entire world is using containers and Kubernetes infused unicorn farts are emanating from every single enterprise on earth
  2. 99.999% of enterprises have moved on from containers and have embraced rainbow spewing serverless functions

Of course, if you’re a realist, and in any way steeped in what happens at the coalface of enterprise IT, you’ll be well aware that neither of these to situations exists and that enterprises continue to use a wide range of different technology approaches depending on a myriad of different factors.

But while that more honest reflection is accurate, it doesn’t really give us an insight into how much of the new stuff enterprises are using. Which is why surveys, such as the one just published by Sysdig, are useful. Sysdig is, of course, a company that was born of the cloud-native age and aims to deliver a unified platform covering security, monitoring, and troubleshooting for microservices-heavy environments. As such, the metrics around the rise of new approaches towards infrastructure are very much within its purview.

And so it is with the second annual Sysdig Docker usage report in which Sysdig aims to cast a light on how some different industries and individual companies are using containers, microservices, and general cloud-native approaches. The survey canvasses mid-sized and large enterprises across North America, Latin America, EMEA, and Asia Pacific. The report aggregated data from 90,000 production containers, twice that of last year.

Highlights from the report

Some interesting statistics from the report include:

  • A reported 50% increase in median container density: The container value proposition is, after all, predicated on increasing density. If we think of a density continuum, at one end is physical servers with their one workload per unit paradigm. Next come virtual servers with their ability to run multiple workloads on virtualized servers sitting on one physical device. For their part, containers are providing the added value of increased host utilization enabling organizations to deliver more services on existing hardware (just don’t mention the obvious next question about Serverless)
  • Just in case you didn’t realize, the battle for the Kubernetes distribution of choice is on: While last year various orchestrators were vying for supremacy, this year the contest is around whose Kubernetes distribution can rule. Docker Swarm, while still alive, is out of the picture it would seem
  • Red Hat gives rkt a fillip: alternative container runtimes grew to 17%: rkt accounted for 12% of the container runtime environment, which is attributed to the acquisition of CoreOS by Red Hat and programs like the Open Container Initiative. Newer container runtime solutions have added diversity to the options available.
  • An interesting one, considering the issues around stateful applications within a container context: three out of the 12 top application components deployed in containers are database solutions: There has been a shift in containerizing more stateful services, signaling an increased confidence in containers.
  • Again another weird one given the Kubernetes noise: Mesos users deploy 50% more containers: Kubernetes is still the most-used orchestrator, but larger-scale container and cloud deployments are more inclined to choose Mesos.
  • As expected, 95% of containers live less than a week: For efficiency, systems can be designed to scale with demand and containers live only as long as they add value.


Some interesting, and some surprising findings from this survey – no doubt they’ll be chewed over by the cognoscenti. It will be interesting to see how next year’s results compare.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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