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Containers tipped for enterprise take-off between now and 2020, predicts 451 Research

451 Research predicts the hype surrounding containers will give way to fast and furious enterprise adoption over the next three years

The hype surrounding application containers may be justified, with 451 Research tipping it to become the fastest-growing segment in the cloud-enabling technologies market between now and 2020.

The market watcher predicts the application container market will enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40% between now and 2020, when it will be worth around $2.7bn, according to 451 Research’s forecast data.

To put that figure into context, the entire cloud-enabling technologies market is estimated to be worth around $23.1bn in 2017, but predicted to grow with a 15% CAGR to $39.6bn by the end of 2020.

451 Research’s analysts said the demand for containers is likely to be fueled by rapid enterprise adoption of the technology, which is typically used to aid application portability in virtualised and cloud environments.

The company said it is seeing a marked shift in the number of enterprises that are moving beyond using containers for development and testing purposes to production workloads.

Greg Zwakman, vice-president of market and competitive intelligence at 451 Research, said another striking thing about the current state of the application container market is the variety of suppliers looking to base their own offerings on the technology.

Furthermore, the analyst house has identified 125 application container suppliers, which it currently tracks the activities of, but predicts many more will emerge over the coming years.

“Two things stand out from our market sizing and research on containers: the breadth and diversity of suppliers basing their offerings on containers or integrating and partnering to better support containers in their products, and the speed of which the container software and market are maturing based on production use and revenue growth,” he said.

The figures and predictions are taken from 451 Research’s latest Cloud-Enabling Technologies Market Monitor report, which tracks the growth of the virtualisation, containers, private platform-as-a-service, automation and management software that provide underlying support for cloud environments.

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The report marks the first time containers have been included in the firm’s report, despite 451 acknowledging the fact they make up a relatively small proportion of this market (around $762m) at present.

Jay Lyman, principal analyst for cloud management and containers at 451 Research, said the organisation’s take on how the container market will grow over time could be considered conservative, and take-up of the technology could be faster and larger than its predictions suggest.

In the three years we’ve been tracking the OpenStack market, we’ve watched it grow from just 30 suppliers in 2013 to more than 91 today. We will be tracking the container market closely to see whether that translates into even higher revenue and faster growth than with OpenStack,” said Lyman.

The container market has been subject to a great deal of hype in recent years, Lyman acknowledged, but the early indications suggest it was justified.

“Just as we saw with OpenStack, revenue generation in the early application container market is characterised by some pure-play suppliers and larger established suppliers generating significant revenue, but most players are just beginning to realise paid engagements,” said Lyman.

Next Steps

Learn about using containers for application modernization

Understand the limitations of container portability

Read more on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)