Containers may constitute a small segment of the cloud-enabling technologies (CET) market, but it is expected to see remarkably fast growth in the next few years.

According to 451 Research’s newest Cloud-Enabling Technologies Market Monitor report, which was released in December, the application container market will reach approximately $2.7 billion USD by 2020, up from $762 million USD in 2016.

The entire CET market – which includes virtualization, containers, private PaaS and other automation and management software – is estimated to be worth approximately $23.1 billion this year (2017) and expected to grow at a 15 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $39.6 billion USD by the end of 2020, the New York-based information technology research and advisory company reports.

In contrast, containers are expected to achieve an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 per cent through 2020.

Greg Zwakman, vice president of market and competitive intelligence at 451 Research, says in a press release from Jan. 10 that two things stand out from the company’s market sizing and research on containers: “the breadth and diversity of vendors basing their offerings on containers or integrating and partnering to better support containers in their products, and the speed at which the container software and market are maturing based on production, use and revenue growth.”

container revenue chart
Container revenue between 2015-2020, according to 451 Research.

Container applications in production

There has also been an increased growth of container applications in production among enterprises. In 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise SDI Workloads and Key Projects 2016 study, a survey of enterprise IT buyers conducted in April and May 2016, there are indications of strong growth in production container use.

“Of the roughly 25 per cent of enterprises surveyed who use containers, 34 per cent were in broad implementation of production applications, and 28 per cent had begun initial implementation of production applications with containers,” the company’s press release says. “This is an impressive adoption growth profile for a technology that has only been in the enterprise for a few years.”

However, 451 Research is quick to highlight the consolidations in the container management and orchestration segments that are already occurring. For example, Apprenda acquired Kubernetes-backer Kismatic in May 2016, and Cisco acquired Docker Swarm supporter ContainerX at the end of August.

Comparisons and broader impacts

451 Research compares the application container market to the OpenStack market, since both “are based on open source software and have participation from startups and established vendors,” in addition to both seeing relatively rapid growth in a short amount of time. The company estimates the OpenStack market was worth $1.8 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to $5.8 billion at a CAGR of 35 per cent by the end of 2020.

The report points out that containers may have a broader impact on the market due to the fact that enterprise adoption of containers and market maturity appears to be happening more rapidly. There is a sizeable number of vendors – 451 Research is currently tracking 125 of them – both large and small, that are offering application container technology and support, and the company expects many more market participants to emerge in coming months and years.

But these are all conservative estimates, adds Jay Lyman, principal analyst of cloud management and containers at 451 Research.

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



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