Survey Reveals Strong Growth for Docker

In the wake of its third birthday, a new survey has revealed the growing popularity of Docker as a DevOps tool.

RightScale conducted its fifth annual State of the Cloud Survey back in January, paying special attention to the latest trends in DevOps and DevOps tools. It wasn't until May, however, when it published the results – and they were pretty interesting to say the least. According to the survey of 1,060 IT professionals conducted by the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud service provider RightScale, Chef, Puppet and Docker are the three most popular and widely used DevOps tools currently on the market.

The survey found that more and more organizations are embracing DevOps, with adoption rates increasing from 66% in 2015 to 74% this year. Enterprise organizations, however, are experiencing the strongest adoption rates of DevOps, with 81% of enterprise respondents confirming the use of DevOps compared to 70% of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

The survey is the largest on the use of DevOps in the cloud and with respondents representing actual buyers and users of configuration management and container tools. Their answers provide a useful perspective on the state of DevOps today,” wrote Kim Weins of RightScale.

Breaking down the numbers of RightScale's State of the Cloud Survey, Chef and Puppet were the most widely used DevOps tools, with 32% of respondents claiming to use each. Coming in second place was Docker, with 27% of respondents claiming to use the powerful container technology. Based on this information alone, it may seem like Chef and Puppet are the leading tools for DevOps, but RightScale's survey revealed something interesting about Docker.

While Docker's current usage may fall short of its Chef and Puppet counterparts, more IT professionals are planning to use it than any other DevOps in the future. According to the survey, 35% of IT professionals who are currently not using Docker plan to use it in the future. In comparison, only 19% of IT professionals surveyed plan to use Chef, while 18% plan to use Puppet.

RightScale's State of the Cloud Survey also covered the following DevOps tools: Ansible, Salt, Kubernates, Docker Swarm, Mesosphere, Docker Tutum, Rocket and Rancher.  Of the 11 tools, however, more respondents said they plan to use Docker than any other, attesting to its widespread popularity among IT professionals.  

It should be noted these tools aren't mutually exclusive and in many cases complimentary to each other.  In fact it is our belief at 51zero that an increased adoption of Docker will see an increase successful DevOps adoption, and with it an increased use of other DevOps tools.

DevOps: the Basics

DevOps, short for Development and Operations, is a set of principles that encourages the collaboration, communication and teamwork among software developers and other IT professionals. According to Wikipedia, it has origins dating back to 2008, during which Andrew Clay Shafer and Patrick Debois talked about the "Agile Infrastructure" while speaking at a conference. In the years to follow, many other organizations began embracing the principles of DevOps.

DevOps tools typically fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Code – development, review and continuous integration tools.

  • Build – compilation, build pipelines, information radiators.

  • Test – testing the code to identify performance issues, bottlenecks and areas in which improvements can be made.

  • Package – package tools may consist of artifact repository as well as tools for preparing the application or product for deployment.

  • Release – application release automation (ARA) to offer automation and workflow management, among other benefits. Release tools may also consist of change management and release approvals.

  • Configure – tools used to configure and manage infrastructures (e.g. physical servers, processes and virtual servers).

  • Monitor – monitoring of application performance, user satisfaction/experience, and similar key performance indicators (KPI) of a product.


Docker is an open-source initiative that's designed to automate the deployment of applications within virtualized software containers. What makes it unique is the use of an additional abstraction layer and operating system-level virtualization.

Developers summarize the technology as being “containers wrap up a piece of software in a complete filesystem that contains everything it needs to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – anything you can install on a server. This guarantees that it will always run the same, regardless of the environment it is running in.

Using Docker containers eliminates common problems like software conflicts, compatibility issues and library conflicts. It also simplifies the DevOps process, allowing developers to work inside virtualized containers without fear of breaking otherwise critical elements. Of course, these are just a few of the many reasons why so many IT professionals are eager to use Docker. As RightScale's survey revealed, Docker isn't the most popular DevOps tool, but that could change very soon, as more IT professionals are planning to use it than any other DevOps tool.

Brush Up on Your Docker Knowledge

You can learn more about Docker, including how to install it, by visiting the official website at Being that it's open source, the Toolbox and other associated files are free to download with no strings attached. Just head over to the Docker website and follow the instructions. It even includes tutorials for setting up an automated build on Docker Hub, as well as running a multi-container application with Compose.

And if you really want to take your knowledge of Docker to other container technologies to the next level, consider signing up for the 2016 Docker Con. Held June 19-21 in Seattle, this industry-leading conference features presentations from keynote Docker professions, keynote speeches, hands-on labs, and more. Dubbed “an expo of Docker ecosystem innovators,” it's the perfect opportunity to learn more about Docker and how it's used in real-world applications. Some of the features speakers scheduled for 2016 Docker Con include Docker founder and CTO Solomon Hykes, Puppet DevOps engineer Gareth Rushgrove, Capital One lead Software engineer Michele Titolo, and Eventuate founder Chris Richardson.

Thanks for reading and feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below regarding DevOps or Docker.