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Empty road and containers in harbor at sunsetAs anyone that’s ever been disappointed by a Christmas present will tell you – shiny packaging can be very misleading. As we hear all the time, it’s what’s inside that counts…

What then, are we to make of the Docker hype, centred precisely on shiny, new packaging? (Docker is the vendor that two years ago found a way to containerise applications: other types of containers, operating system containers, have been around for a couple of decades)

It is not all about the packaging, of course. Perhaps we should say that it is more about on what the package is placed, and how it is managed (amongst other things) that matters most?

Regardless, containers are one part of a changing cloud, data centre and enterprise IT landscape, the ‘cloud native’ movement widely seen as driving a significant shift in enterprise infrastructure and application development.

What the industry is trying to figure out, and what could prove the most disruptive angle to watch as more and more enterprises roll out containers into production, is the developing competition within this whole container/cloud/data centre market.

The question of competition is a very hot topic in the container, devops and cloud space.  Nobody could have thought the OCI co-operation between Docker and CoreOS meant they were suddenly BFFs. Indeed, the drive to become the enterprise container of choice now seems to be at the forefront of both companies’ plans. Is this, however, the most dynamic relationship in the space? What about the Google-Docker-Mesos orchestration game? It would seem that Google’s trusted container experience is already allowing it to gain favour with enterprises, with Kubernetes taking a lead. And with CoreOS in bed with Google’s open source Kubernetes, placing it at the heart of Tectonic, does this mean that CoreOS has a stronger play in the enterprise market to Docker? We will wait and see…

We will also wait and see how the Big Cloud Three will come out of the expected container-driven market shift. Somebody described AWS as ‘a BT’ to me…that is, the incumbent who will be affected most by the new disruptive changes brought by containers, since it makes a lot of money from an older model of infrastructure….

Microsoft’s container ambition is also being watched closely. There is a lot of interest from both the development and IT Ops communities in their play in the emerging ecosystem. At a recent meet-up, an Azure evangelist had to field a number of deeply technical questions regarding exactly how Microsoft’s containers fair next to Linux’s. The question is whether, when assessing who will win the largest piece of the enterprise pie, this will prove the crux of the matter?

Containers are not merely changing the enterprise cloud game (with third place Google seemingly getting it very right) but also driving the IT Ops’ DevOps dream to reality; in fact, many are predicting that it could eventually prove a bit of a threat to Chef and Puppet’s future….

So, maybe kids at Christmas have got it right….it is all about the wrapping and boxes! We’ll have to wait a little longer than Christmas Day to find out.

Lucy Ashton. Head of Content & Production, Container WorldWritten by Lucy Ashton, Head of Content & Production, Container World

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