Deep Dive: Container Adoption Trends in 2020

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According to the data in our report, How 2020 Changed the Way We Use the Cloud, cloud container usage increased across the board in 2020.

This trend is likely to continue into 2021 and beyond, as developers increasingly look to leverage the scalability and operational advantages of containerized workloads.

While these advantages are likely to make development teams more productive, businesses will need to understand the broader implications on their cloud environment and budgets. Containerized workloads introduce new challenges for cloud financial management, including nuances around resource labeling, cost allocation, and rightsizing workloads to eliminate unnecessary spending.

To provide more insight into what you can do to manage costs related to container usage, we collaborated with the FinOps Foundation on an in-depth whitepaper, FinOps for Kubernetes: Unpacking Container Cost Allocation and Optimization.

FinOps for Kubernetes: Unpacking Container Cost Allocation and Optimization

To shed more light on container usage trends in 2020, below are some of the key takeaways from our full report.

1. Container usage was 38.7% higher in September 2020 than in January 2020

To determine how spending on specific cloud services fluctuated, we analyzed the median percentage of the total monthly public cloud bill of the organizations evaluated. This allowed us to understand how usage of a specific cloud service changed on a monthly basis regardless of whether total cloud spending increased or decreased.

The increase was most pronounced among enterprise organizations, with container usage 47.5% higher in September than in February. Small businesses also showed a significant increase in container spend, with a 29.3% increase from April through June.

This is notable because, with enterprise organizations, both overall cloud spend and container spend increased following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However with small businesses, overall cloud spend actually decreased following the pandemic, even though their spend on containers still increased. 

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2. Container usage rose even among industries with the most dramatic decreases in cloud usage

In several industries, the public cloud proved valuable in helping adapt to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The public sector showed substantial monthly increases in total cloud spending as schools and government agencies adapted to support remote operations following the onset of pandemic restrictions. Media and entertainment businesses and those in the telecommunications and utility sectors also turned to the public cloud to support the shift in demand for video streaming and cloud-based collaboration as consumers were largely confined to their homes. So it was little surprise that the data showed increases in container usage among these sectors in 2020.

However, the data also indicated growth in container spending among organizations that decreased total cloud investment in 2020. Those in the travel and hospitality sector, for example, spent 65.3% less on the public cloud in September than in January. This is likely a direct result of the devastating impact that COVID-19 restrictions had on revenues for the sector. These businesses showed significant decreases to the three largest line items on the cloud bill: compute, database, and storage. 

However, in terms of the median percentage of monthly cloud bill, the travel and hospitality sector showed a 37.6% increase in container usage from June to September. While overall cloud investment may have decreased in the period, it’s clear that containers made up a more significant amount of the public cloud budget even as the pandemic wore on.

Tackle These 6 Common Container Challenges

3. Containers are increasingly becoming the norm

As the data indicated increased container usage across the board, it also showed a decrease in compute services, which is by far the largest area of cloud investment among the organizations evaluated. By September, compute spending was 4.5% lower than it was in January.

A number of factors likely contributed to this trend, including a renewed focus on cloud cost optimization measures and committed use discount pricing programs among organizations looking to withstand a struggling economy. It’s also important to note that total spending on compute services still far exceeds that of container services.

All in all, these trends indicate a shift towards containerization when deploying new workloads in the cloud. 

Organizations with large cloud environments will need to understand how this trend will impact their cloud management strategy, including the primary benefits and challenges of containerization, and how to integrate tools to help manage container performance and costs.

CloudHealth Tech Staff, Cloud Tech Journalist

The CloudHealth Tech Staff team is made up of industry experts who report on trending cloud news, offer cloud management best practices, and compare products and services across the major cloud providers. As a part of CloudHealth, the CloudHealth Tech Staff come from all different backgrounds making them unique leaders in this industry.

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