Docker Survey: A Look Into The Container Revolution

Data On Docker

Docker has been one of the hottest buzzwords in the IT community over the last year as the open source project has popularized a standard for Linux containers adopted by the world's largest cloud and development environments.

With so much hype in the world of DevOps, it's hard to get a sense of reality as far as adoption of container-tech in the enterprise.

StackEngine, a developer of automation and management tools for Docker containers based in Austin, Texas, surveyed 745 IT organizations across a broad range of global businesses in January to figure out who's using Docker, and what they're doing with it.

The resulting State of Containers Survey 2015 concluded that "Docker adoption is real and ahead of schedule in the enterprise."

What Infrastructure Are Respondents Using?

Businesses polled for the StackEngine survey were members of two online communities: the VMware and virtualization community of and the cloud-centric community of

Almost two-thirds of the respondents told StackEngine they were running VMware environments. About 40 percent of the total were also leveraging the public cloud, and 34 percent were using OpenStack private clouds.

The respondents had a fairly balanced mix of Linux, Windows and Bare Metal deployment models.

What Do Enterprises Know About Docker?

Quite a lot, it seems.

More than 20 percent of the respondents are already using Docker, and another half of the 745 polled are currently evaluating the technology.

Less than a quarter of the remaining 30 percent who aren't interested in Docker -- only 7 percent of the total pool -- say they've never even heard of it.

"Within a virtualization and cloud ecosystem of readers, the fact that only less than 7 percent of those responding selected that they haven’t heard of the technology also speaks volumes as to the marketing efforts and visibility and name recognition gained in such a short amount of time," the StackEngine report concludes.

What Are Businesses Doing With Docker?

Mostly application development and QA it seems, which were use cases cited by 53 percent and 64 percent of respondents, respectively.

Another interesting stat is that 31 percent of the businesses polled are either already using or plan to use Docker for production workloads.

"Again, this number suggests that Docker is being embraced in a relatively quick order relative to how long the technology has been around."

Why Would VMware Customers Use Docker?

StackEngine asked all 745 respondents what factors they believed would motivate VMware users to adopt Docker.

The main one cited was the desire to achieve interoperability between various public and private cloud resources -- an answer given by more than 45 percent of respondents.

But more than 40 percent of respondents also thought pressure from test departments would get VMware users to turn to Docker, with 23 percent of the total also citing pressure from development groups.

About 44 percent of respondents said VMware's cost would drive users to Docker, and independence from VMware was cited as a motivating factor by 35 percent of the 745 businesses polled.

What's Holding Docker Back?

The two greatest challenges to Docker adoption, according to the respondents polled by StackEngine, were the security model and a lack of operational tools for production. Each of those perceived obstacles to Docker adoption were cited by 49 percent of the respondents.

Lack of development tools was a concern of 37 percent, and 17 percent found Windows support a challenge.

More than a quarter of all 745 respondents also saw reliance on open source as a problem.

How Do VMware Users Want To Manage Containers?

More than 44 percent of all respondents -- those using VMware and those not -- said they believed VMware users wanted to manage their Docker containers using existing VMware tools.

About a quarter expect VMware users to prefer a new tool for the Docker ecosystem, and another 23 percent of respondents said they think VMware users would prefer a combination of both.

Almost 9 percent of the 745 respondents had no opinion on what kind of tools VMware users would want for container management.

What Will Businesses Do With Docker This Year?

Almost half of the 745 respondents -- 48 percent -- said their businesses will use, or plan to use, Docker over the next year for testing and quality assurance applications. More than 45 percent answered they would use containers for web-facing applications, 43 percent said big data and enterprise applications, and another 30 percent said cloud-based applications.

More respondents said they planned to use Docker with Linux (almost 20 percent) than Windows (14.5 percent).

The Middle Out

Who in the enterprise management structure is choosing Docker?

The results of the poll suggest Docker adoption will be driven by middle management. Of the 745 companies polled, 347 said that's where the decision would be made about how Docker is used.

About 23 percent said upper management would make that decision, and just 7 percent said it would come from a CIO directive.

Docker also is getting strong grassroots support, with almost a quarter of respondents saying Docker adoption would come through grassroots efforts.

Those numbers are in contrast for the cloud, which is driven from the top-down, and dev tools, driven from the bottom up, StackEngine notes.