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Gartner: Strong revenue growth forecast for container management software and services

Worldwide container management revenue will reach $944 million in 2024, up from a small base of $465.8 million in 2020, according to new figures from Gartner. 

Among the various subsegments, public cloud container orchestration and serverless container offerings will experience the most significant growth, the analyst firm says.

This is the first time Gartner has published a forecast for container management, in response to the increasing importance of the underlying technology.

“There has been considerable hype and a high level of interest in container technology, but a lower level of production deployments to date,” says Michael Warrilow, research vice president at Gartner.

"Containers have become popular because they provide a powerful tool for addressing several critical concerns of application developers, including the need for faster delivery, agility, portability, modernisation and life cycle management," he says.

Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 75% of global organisations will be running containerised applications in production, up from less than 30% today.

"As a result of the growing use of containers, enterprise demand for container management is increasing," says Warrilow. 

"Container management provides software and/or services that support the management of containers, at scale, in production environments."

According to Gartner, the popularity of cloud-native applications is behind container management growth.

Warrilow says the forecast growth in enterprise adoption of container management indicates the intrinsic appeal of cloud-native architecture.

“Understanding of ‘cloud-native’ varies, but it has significant potential benefits over traditional, monolithic application design, such as scalability, elasticity and agility,” he says. “It is also strongly associated with the use of containers.”

Gartner says recessed economic conditions will curb growth in the medium-term.

Several factors will restrict adoption among organisations developing or modernising custom applications. Despite the need to support digital transformation, initiatives will be curbed by recessed economic conditions for at least the medium term, as organisational priorities shift to cost optimisation, the analyst firm says.

 Gartner expects that up to 15% of enterprise applications will run in a container environment by 2024, up from less than 5% in 2020, hampered by application backlog, technical debt and budget constraints.

“The bottleneck will be the speed at which applications can be refactored and/or replaced,” says Warrilow.

 Containers will fuel an open ecosystem, Gartner says.

Direct revenue for container management software and services will remain a small portion of the container ecosystem. Additional revenue will come from a range of adjacent segments that are not included in Gartner’s container management forecast. This includes application development, managed services, on-premises hardware and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) among other segments.

For example, the IaaS revenue associated with container management is expected to reach $1 billion before 2023. Many of the adjacent segments are already reported in existing Gartner forecasts

“Although the direct incremental revenue may be less than many expect, containers may have a different role to play,” explains Warrilow. “Containers could ultimately fuel an open ecosystem similar to Linux.”