This piece originally appeared in CSO online.

While the initial concept of containerization began more than a decade ago, container technology usage really took off once Docker was introduced to the scene in 2013. If you are in the software development space, chances are you use or are at least familiar with containers. The application container technology Docker provided completely changed the way that IT operations were carried out and offers many valued benefits for developers.

Since 2013, we’ve seen continuous growth in the mainstream uses of containers. As container adoption continues to increase, developers and software engineers are utilizing containers in new ways, making the reasons to choose container technology more extensive. In a recent container research report, DZone surveyed 811 software professionals on their use of containers. The report provided interesting insight and data on the benefits, tools and challenges that containers brings to an organization.

Expected benefits

Out of the software professionals surveyed, 42 percent of respondents said their organization uses container technology and 23% said their organization was evaluating the use of container technology, proving companies are investing heavily in containers. For those still evaluating containers, many expect great benefits from using the technology. 64% expect environmental consistency, 56% expect fast deployment, 51% expect portability and 48% expect higher scalability.

Key container tools

It should be no surprise to anyone in the software development ecosystem that Docker is the most popular single container tool — in fact 92 percent of respondents who use container technology said their organization uses Docker. However, looking at additional parts of the container technology stack, the spread between the tools is much more even. For example, 35% of respondents using containers said their organization uses Kubernetes, while 32% said they use Docker Swarm. In addition, 24% of the respondents who said their organization uses one of these said they use both. For container operating systems, CoreOS Container Linux was most popular choice at 26%. OpenShift was the most popular CaaS for containers at 18%, but 47% of all respondents at container-using organizations said they don’t use a CaaS at all.

Container challenges

Every popular technology comes with its set of challenges. 70% of respondents found refactoring or re-architecting legacy apps to be a very or moderately challenging aspect of adopting containers. Short behind was 68% finding that a lack of developer experience was the most challenging aspect and 64% mentioned the difficulty of ensuring application and network security. When a technology is relatively new and different, education is key to ensure developers utilize the technology in the most effective way possible. With proper understanding and experience with containers, the challenges will become less prominent and easier to manage and actually improve security.

Impact on microservices, CD and deployment

Containerization is just one piece of the IT ecosystem and affects (and is affected) by other technologies. For example, out of the respondents who uses containers, 68% said their organization has adopted microservices since. Continuous delivery is another aspect that respondents found to be affected significantly by container usage. 40% of respondents at container-using organizations said they believed they had achieved CD, versus 28% for container evaluators and 23% for non-container-users. The data found that containers have an impact on deployment speeds as well. 36% of respondents at organizations using containers said they deploy on-demand, compared to 15% of those evaluating containers and 19% of those not using containers. This goes to show that containers have a direct impact on microservices, continuous delivery and faster deployment times.

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