According to a RightScale survey completed in January 2016, enterprises are using containers more than small and medium businesses unsurprisingly. The survey found that 29 percent of enterprises have workloads running in containers and 41 percent of enterprises are experimenting with them.
Another good indicator about the increasing popularity of containers for enterprises are the specialized capabilities of the scaling tools available for handling and managing the containers. Apache Mesos, Docker Swarm, and Kubernetes have all been developing and improving, as enterprises begin to decide what cluster manager will be the best fit for automating the deployment, scaling and operating their containers.
Among these fast-growing open source communities, however, there is speculation that Kubernetes seems to be growing fastest.
For Apprenda executive Chris Gaun, his speculation is that one large component depends upon the fact that Kubernetes offers a “very strong ecosystem that mimics the Hadoop model” as it allows for vendors to “productize” the solution. In other words, when there are several vendors contributing to the project, the project is allowed to flourish.
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Apache Mesos was first released into the public in 2009. Kubernetes was open sourced by Google in 2014 and initially announced over five years later. It is based on Google’s Borg technology that runs the Google workloads and has so for many years.
Google held off on releasing Kubernetes until April 2015. So what about Kubernetes, a platform so young compared to Apache Mesos, makes it so desirable over platforms with more experience? Despite only being out of beta for under a year, there has been a recent growth in the trend of jobs requiring certain container managers, particularly Kubernetes. An Apprenda chart measuring the growth in Stack Overflow questions that mention the different container cluster managers reveals much higher interest in Kubernetes:
It also helps that Kubernetes arguably provides the model by which Apache Mesos and Cloud Foundry developed upon. Cloud Foundry grew from Derek Collison’s experience working at Google with Borg. Apache Mesos, in turn, was arguably influenced by Ben Hindman’s experience working alongside ex-Googlers as they sought to re-create the Borg within Twitter. Everyone wanted to be Google.
Now, however, Google has released the foundational code and invited others to productize it.
The biggest reason for Kubernetes’ success might be due to the fact that Google released Kubernetes as an open source project and did not retain ownership. Though Google introduced the original code, they have not held a monopoly on further development, creating a vacuum for more healthy competition and input from the community.
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The other major names have a single point of significant development input: for Apache Mesos, it is Mesosphere; for Cloud Foundry, it is the Pivotal and VMware partnership; for Docker Swarm, it is Docker Inc. Kubernetes does not hold court in this market niche yet however. The simplicity of Docker Swarm is still a preference for some as well as the familiar language. Additionally, the shell scripts and installation options of Kubernetes have room for improvement.
The race for the most popular or most recommended container management system has become a marathon with miles still to come. It is likely that it won’t end with a single gold medalist but probably ties of several great offerings within the market. Variety is not a terrible thing for any market, technology or not, since it is rare that one size can truly fit all.