Container Summit Q&A

The Future of Containers in the Enterprise

Container Summit Q&A

November 23, 2015

Alex Williams, The New Stack

Alex Williams, founder of The New Stack, was emcee of the 2015 Container Summit event in San Francisco. During the event he spoke with many of the speakers, sponsors, and attendees. The interview below presents his perspective on the event and his musings on the container ecosystem.

1. What speaker or panel particularly stood out to you that effectively demonstrated the impact containers are having on the enterprise today and why?

Bryan Cantrill's keynote. Bryan talked about containers in a historical context which allowed a way to think through how the market is evolving and how the technology’s direction makes bare metal more relevant than ever before.

2. What was your top takeaway from the Container Summit, in regards to the current state of containerization and potential for future innovation?

Containers are a symbol of change in the new stack ecosystem. That was exemplified in several of the talks. Companies are rethinking how they conduct their business. The talk about the Wolf of Wall Street is a good example of that shift. Innovation will be driven by business needs to compete against fast-moving software companies across all industries.

3. There was a panel on the newly formed Cloud Native Computing Foundation. What stood out to you most from that panel and what do you think the CNCF’s impact will be on the cloud native computing space?

The goals the CNCF is setting for itself stood out. Not sure of the impact. One of the takeaways: The CNCF is working through how all the parties develop a standardized effort, which makes it relevant how platforms are integrated. Companies are first and foremost needing an underlying compute to make "cloud native" a reality. Will CNCF help make that happen? A lot comes down to the way the vendors decide to work together. OpenStack has had its faults but it is getting closer. The question: what is CNCF's path going to be?

4. In your view, what does the next year look like for containers? The next 10 years?

Containers are a symbol of a larger change in the enterprise. They will play a smart role for creating automated software and services. But really, the issue is one of economics. Containers are light, portable and the community has ways to share their experiences using containers, which they had not been able to do with other technology before. But developing a container stack is still complex. The next year will see a continued emphasis on compatibility, but over the next ten years the shift will be toward performance, with serverless architectures becoming the norm as millions of new developers require simpler ways to build, deploy and manage apps.

5. What do you believe is still holding organizations back from adopting containers, and what solutions stand out to you in the space?

More education and deeper explanations of the tech are needed, and data center operators must become standardized on virtualized infrastructure in order for organizations to adopt containers. The shift from making things work to a culture of embracing failure is one for a younger generation to tackle. But economics will drive a new change -- there will be an ever deeper need to develop apps as they will be increasingly relevant to the revenues of the company. Companies do not see this business connection yet.

Solutions that stand out? Container-first approaches which make it possible to change the business model. Examples are seen with startups which can, as one company is showing, offer a continuous delivery capability that is more efficient than what can be done with VMs.

6. A couple years ago, a lot of people were only just beginning to hear about Docker. Now, containers are one of the hottest movements in the DevOps ecosystem. Why do you believe Docker and containers have accelerated at the pace they have?

Packaging, portability and speed -- it's about efficiency and convenience. Containers make it simpler for companies to get started and proceed down a path to begin really considering microservices as a viable option for their application stacks. That has impacts that go deep into the infrastructure: networking and storage.

7. What was your impression of the “container ecosystem” before the Container Summit? How did the event confirm or alter that perception?

Containers are a symbol of the new stack but also represent a real change in how we view app dev and management at scale. The event showed, by its attendance, that companies are seeing containers as a way to modernize their app stacks and overall infrastructure. The ecosystem has been growing, but the conference showed how it is maturing. People are using containers in production and more want to take that route, and economic factors are driving that shift.