So many of us will be glad when 2020 is over and one for the history books. On the bright side, it has been an excellent year for container technologies, though. Recently, some Anchore employees made their predictions for the container market in 2021:

2021: The Year of Containers “Walking Fast”

“If we look at container adoption as a matter of crawl, walk, run, 2021 is looking like many in the industry will be walking fast,” predicts Dan Nurmi, CTO of Anchore. “We've seen many mid to large organizations choose containers to realize their ultimate objective of delivering fast, stable, highly-automated, secure SDLC processes. Up until now, the greatest success we've seen has been in smaller R&D and greenfield projects.  Moving forward, organizations will be building on the tools and techniques delivered by these successful projects to drive container adoption further into critical production application environments." 

He adds that many of these container projects have shown real value without sacrificing design characteristics.

Containers drop their Bad Reputation

He predicts that in 2021, now that many successful container-based designs have been proven out, organizations and designers will begin seeing characteristics of containers as beneficial rather than as problems.  He explains the flexibility of software choice to developers, clear and trackable content, quick update and deployment are aspects that containers can quickly provide and can be leveraged rather than resisted, now that tech exists to overcome those early concerns such as stability, security, monitoring, and provenance tracking.

Containers aren’t the enemy, advises Nurmi.  “Whenever there is an innovation/evolution in the developer infrastructure space, there is an immediate and legitimate outpouring of concerns about the challenges and problems that appear when shifting to something new.  Container technology supports a compelling enough set of values to make the change worthwhile. However, with the availability of new and ever-improved tooling, we're now seeing organizations overcoming many of these initial concerns, ranging from software provenance to security and monitoring.”

Growing Container usage Demands  Better Tooling

More and more technology corners that haven't adopted containerization (or have, but not entirely) will continue the path towards better and more usage predicts Alfredo Deza, a senior software engineer at Anchore. He adds, “With that usage, the demand for better tooling will follow through. The need for integrations everywhere and anywhere for containers will continue, and more tools will default to a containerized installation only.

“In areas like Machine Learning, containerization is becoming more prominent, and more cloud support dedicated to containers and machine learning will follow up," Deza further predicts.

Multi-cloud goes Mainstream

Multi-cloud will become mainstream in 2021, according to Paul Novarese, a senior sales engineer at Anchore. Unlike multi-region techniques that are mostly availability tactics, multi-cloud is a strategic way to avoid vendor lock-in.

Serverless Container Platform Adoption Expands

Infrastructure becomes more of a hindrance, and the adoption of serverless container platforms (such as Fargate) expands, Novarese predicts.  In a serverless universe, security solutions that rely on sidecar containers, agents, or kernel modules become obsolete - deep image awareness and continuous compliance become more and more important.

Rise of Docker Build Alternatives

There are already a lot of options for building containers without Docker. In 2021, these options will continue to gain momentum, and alternatives to Dockerfile may be just as popular as docker build, according to Adam Hevenor, principal product manager at Anchore. “I am keeping my eye on Cloud Native Buildpacks, which was recently brought into the Incubation stage by the CNCF.” 

Rise of the Rest of the Registries

With changes to the Dockerhub usage caps, we can expect to see more and more projects use alternative registries, predicts Hevenor. It remains to be seen whether open source projects will move out of Docker Hub. Still, offerings from Github, Amazon Web Services, and Google are going to become increasingly common places to keep your container images. 

Beyond Kubernetes (towards Serverless)

While Kubernetes has captured most enterprises’ mindshare, managing and upgrading Kubernetes is still a big challenge for operators, stated Hevenor. He predicts with the announcement of Lambda’s support of containers and the growth of Google Cloud Run and Azure Functions you can expect to see more and more enterprises consider serverless alternatives to Kubernetes. 

Container Adoption on Microsoft Windows will Double in 2021

Mike Suding, a  sales engineer for Anchore, predicts that container usage/adoption on Microsoft Windows will double compared to 2020. Because of the law of small numbers and Microsoft’s history of excelling when their executive team gets behind a product or service.

Containers in 2021

The Anchore team has high expectations for container acceptance and adoption in the market next year even when enterprises begin to enter post-COVID-19 recovery and many digital transformation projects mark their completion.