Results of the bi-annual CNCF survey

The cloud native future is here: These are the most popular technologies

Gabriela Motroc
cloud native
© Shutterstock / ILYA AKINSHIN

The results of the bi-annual CNCF survey are here. We’ll have a closer look at the most popular technologies, as well as the benefits of cloud native projects and the challenges in using and deploying containers. Let’s dig in!

How can cloud native shake up the traditional workflow?

Despite cloud computing’s popularity, there are still a lot of unknowns, misunderstandings, and gaps and the same goes for cloud native. Kubernetes co-creator, Joe Beda, has written a multi-part series multiple in which he examined the angles of how to think about and apply “cloud native” thinking so if you want to dip your toes into this architecture, you should have a look at his posts.

Is cloud native worth exploring? As Abby Kearns, Executive Director of Cloud Foundry Foundation told us in a recent interview, “it’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native.”

Right now, we see many companies operating in a multi-cloud environment – with some workloads running on infrastructure on-premises, and some running on a public cloud. However, we are also seeing more companies running on multiple platforms. Leveraging a variety of technologies to address the varying needs of different application workloads. I expect that we will only see more of this in the future, so new application workloads developed today should plan to be at least cloud-ready, if not cloud-native.

– Abby Kearns

So…where do we go from here?

The latest CNCF survey sheds some light on the importance, growth, and adoption of cloud native technologies. Let’s have a look!

CNCF survey: Highlights


  •  The use of serverless technology continues to grow, up 22% since December 2017 with the majority of respondents using hosted platforms such as AWS Lambda (70%).
  •  The top three benefits of cloud native technology are faster deployment time, improved scalability, and cloud portability.
  • 40% of respondents from enterprise companies (5000+) are running Kubernetes in production.

The results show that companies are still using a combination of on premise (64%), private cloud (50%), and public cloud (77%) solutions. As far as containers are concerned, most companies are deploying to AWS, followed by on premise servers, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, VMware, and OpenStack.

It’s worth mentioning that the popularity of on premise is slowly decreasing and the culprit may be the private clouds. On the bright side, VMware use is growing: only 1.2% of people citing usage in the December 2017 survey and now 24% are using it.

SEE ALSO: Cloud-native newbies more likely to feel the impact of the looming developer shortage

Containers are widely used in production (over 70%) today and almost 30% are planning to use them in the future. As for container management tools, the popularity list looks like this:

  • Kubernetes (83%)
  • Amazon ECS (24%)
  • Docker Swarm (21%)
  • Shell Scripts (20%)

Speaking of Kubernetes, almost 60% are using it in production and just over 40% are considering using it in the future. As for which environment Kubernetes is being run in, the popularity list looks like this:

  • AWS (57%)
  • On premise servers (37%)
  • Google Cloud Platform (32%)
  • Microsoft Azure (20%)
  • OpenStack (16%)
  • VMware (15%)

One interesting finding is that Helm is the preferred method for packaging(68%), followed by managed Kubernetes offerings (19%).

Helm recently joined the ranks of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s incubating projects. Previously, it was a sub-project under Kubernetes and it was quite popular with their userbase. According to the Kubernetes Application Survey, an impressive 64% of surveyed Kubernetes users reported that they used Helm. Helm was decisively the most used Kubernetes app management tool, so it only makes sense to give Helm the home it needs to flourish so it can continue to be a developer favorite.

Read more about it here.

SEE ALSO: Increased developer productivity with cloud-native

Speaking of surprises, respondents’ interest in Kubeless has skyrocketed. So if you’re looking for a serverless option for Kubernetes, seek no further! When asked what serverless platforms they prefer, 42% of respondents said they prefer Kubeless (from only 2% in December last year), followed by Apache OpenWhisk (25%) and OpenFaas (20%).

Also, if you’re thinking of dipping your toes into serverless, now’s the time. 38% of organizations are currently using serverless technology but an additional 26% plan to within the next 12-18 months.

Cloud native: Benefits & challenges

Last but not least, it’s time to look at the benefits of cloud native projects and challenges in using and deploying containers.


  •  Faster deployment time
  • Improved scalability
  • Cloud portability


  • Cultural Changes with Development Team (41%)
  • Complexity (40% up from 35%)
  • Lack of Training (40%)
  • Security (38% down from 43%)
  • Monitoring (34% down from 38%)
  • Storage (30% down from 41%)
  • Networking (30% down from 38%)

Want to take a look at the data yourself? Here are the survey results.


Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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