Although it seems as if everybody has been talking about cloud containers since 2013, the conversation continues. We look at why everybody is talking about cloud containers still, and why the conversation is likely to continue for many more years.
In March 2013, Docker launched its first containerization platform. Containerization was not a new concept, but the fact the platform was open source and supported portability across different Linux operating systems contributed to containers becoming the most talked about technology in cloud computing. It was even suggested they could one day replace Virtual Machines.
The following year, the conversation grew louder when Amazon released its EC2 Container Service (ECS) and IBM announced a strategic partnership to support containers both in the cloud and on-premises. The conversation developed into a crescendo when Google released the open source cloud container orchestration system Kubernetes in July 2015.
Several years have passed since these events, during which time other technologies have tried to get involved in the conversation (Internet of Things, Function-as-a-Service, Machine Learning, etc.). Yet everybody is talking about cloud containers still. Why? Usually the novelty of new technology wears off after a period of time and the conversation lulls, but apparently not in the case of cloud containers.
What’s Happened to Keep the Conversation Flowing?
Plenty of things really—and conveniently spaced apart to keep cloud containers in the limelight (although we are not sure some of the events were deliberately timed). On the plus side, there have been upgrades and new releases to excite the cloud community. On the down side, there have been security vulnerabilities discovered to concern the cloud community. Here´s a brief selection:
- A privilege escalation vulnerability (“Dirty COW”) was identified on Linux kernels in October 2016 that enabled unprivileged local users to gain write access to otherwise read-only memory mappings, potentially increasing their privileges on the system.
- In December 2016, Kubernetes released v1.5 which included support for OpenAPI. This support gave developers the ability to communicate with each other in different languages and collaborate on projects, plus the option of automating their Kubernetes tools.
- In May 2017, Google and IBM announced Istio—an open source technology that provides a means for developers to seamlessly connect, manage ,and secure networks of different microservices to improve traffic flow management—regardless of platform, source, or vendor.
- Although Microsoft had provided an Azure Container Service since 2015, the company broke new ground in October 2017 with the release of its managed Kubernetes service, which enabled customers to mix and match Linux and Windows containers deployed as a single workload.
- The highest profile “crypto-jacking” of cloud containers was uncovered in February 2018 when cloud security researchers found an unidentified hacker had broken into Tesla´s AWS-hosted containers and installed Stratum cryptocurrency mining software.
- In June 2018, Amazon released its Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) which simplified the processes of building, securing, operating, and managing clusters of cloud containers, and eliminated the need for developers to set up clusters from scratch.
Also in June 2018, a cloud security company discovered more than 21,000 container orchestration and API management systems with potential attack points due to poorly configured resources and the use of non-secure protocols. More than 300 container management clusters had no authentication procedures in place at all. Lax security illustrates the importance of keeping cloud containers in the conversation.
Cloud Containers and the Legacy Paradigm
One further reason why everybody is talking about cloud containers still is that not everybody jumped into cloud containers simultaneously in 2013. At the time, there were many established companies with legacy systems that were unable to use cloud containers due to compatibility issues, while others held back due to networking, data storage, and resource monitoring concerns.
As technology has been introduced to overcome some of these issues and concerns, more companies are adopting cloud containers. A report published at the beginning of 2017 showed the cloud containers market had grown in revenue from $495 million in 2015 to $762 million in 2016, and was projected to grown to a revenue of $2,688 million by 2020.
As established companies and new companies adopt container technology, they request “how to” information from companies already using the technology. This keeps the conversation flowing and explains why everybody is talking about cloud containers still. If the projections for the cloud container market are correct, we expect the conversation to continue for many more years.