Survey: Wider Docker Adoption Hinges on Security, Tooling

Adoption has been down-up, pushed by developers, rather than top-down, driven by the C suite, but that doesn't mean the C suite is not interested

Jason Verge

February 12, 2015

3 Min Read

Docker, the hot application container technology, needs to overcome security and operational tool maturity hurdles to achieve widespread adoption, according to a new survey. Docker packages an application in a way that makes it portable across different data center or cloud environments.

A company in the Docker ecosystem called StackEngine, as well as VMblog and CloudCow conducted the new survey across about 750 respondents in enterprise virtualization and cloud computing fields.

StackEngine recently emerged from stealth. The company builds software that helps massively deploy, manage, and scale resilient applications in modern container-centric architectures.

About three-quarters of enterprises are using or evaluating Docker, according to the survey. It’s still early in the Docker market, with most usage in development or with internal applications, but many looking to use it more widely and in production. Docker is seeing bottom-up, rather than top-down adoption; developers, rather than executive CIO initiatives are pushing it. The company and the eponymous open source technology have captured developer hearts. The survey revealed, however, that it's also on executives’ radar, and widespread adoption is a matter of reaching a certain maturity level.

“It’s similar to how virtualization first started,” StackEngine CEO and Co-Founder Bob Quillin said. “The same audience [that] was an early adopter of virtualization is an early adopter of Docker. Most are thinking about using it in production but want more confidence and capabilities.”

The survey identifies the two biggest hurdles as security and limited capabilities.

“Operations teams are getting used to it, but security is one inhibitor, while the other is they don’t have the operational tools,” Quillin said.

Docker has been working on building in tools and capabilities. It acquired a company called Orchard last year.

Docker 1.5 came out this week, featuring some enhancements, and showing that the feature set is maturing.

There is also a growing ecosystem of companies focused on building capabilities around Docker. One recent example is Logentries, which provides a real-time log management service for Docker.

Part of the problem is customer awareness of what’s available, and what’s battle tested. There needs to be a central, easy way to get these tools, Quillin said. There are many you can download on GitHub; the operational tools are there, but it all hasn’t gelled into one cohesive platform yet.

The survey reveals a lot about VMware in particular, as 65 percent defined their infrastructure as VMware-based. Almost half of those users said they want to use existing tools from VMware to manage Docker, which is an opportunity for the company. VMware has been building out its Docker strategy.

These same shops, however, cited VMware independence (37 percent) and VMware costs (44 percent) as motivation for using Docker. Other usage drivers were testing the waters (42 percent) and hybrid cloud (45 percent).

Docker is making some very good strides around security of containers themselves, Quillin said. “Concerning to customers is you need to use command line interface, which gives you access to the host. You don’t want to give root access to developers."

Complete survey results and infographics are available here

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