Re: Not disruptive?
"Most of the SMBs I know aren't running VMs even now, they run their applications on a miscellany of elderly hardware held together by good fortune and the occasional visit of the part-time finance director's second cousin."
Then you don't know SMBs, period. "Small to medium business" covers 1 to 1000 seats, generally. With enterprise being above 1000 seats. (Depending on which government is doing the counting.) The bulk of those companies are in the 50-250 seat range, and as an SMB sysadmin by trade, I promise you they've been virtualised for some time now.
"And as soon as containerisation makes it properly to Windows, those people will be taking it up in their droves, because there's no point running multiple OSs if you don't have to - even just from a licensing point of view."
Wrong again. Ignoring the rest of your prejudiced (and false) remarks, you don't understand at all <i.why</i> most companies use VMs. It is to obtain the benefits of redundancy, reliability and manageability (including snapshots, backups, replication, live workload migration during maintenance, etc) that hypervisors provide. Contianers, at the moment, don't provide that.
SMBs want far more than just the ability to run the maximum number of workloads on a given a piece of hardware. They want those workloads to be bulletproof. They need them to be something that can be moved around while still in use because there aren't any "maintenance windows" anymore. There's always someone remotely accessing something. That's just life today. Hell, that was life 5 years ago. It's like you have a picture of SMBs stuck in a time warp from 1999 and you imagine that they've never evolved.
"Containers aren't just a packaging technology - they depend on the provision of resource management and scheduling in the OS that are equivalent to those provided by a current hypervisor."
Everything depends on " the provision of resource management and scheduling in the OS that are equivalent to those provided by a current hypervisor". Whether running on metal in it's own OS, in a container, or in a hypervisor. I don't understand how this precludes containers from being "just a packaging technology".
"And while Docker may have a little way to go (but I think 30 months rather than 30 years will see some big changes), I think you'd have a hard time persuading the people on non-x86 hardware that their WPARs and Zones are manifestly harder to work with than VM solutions."
No, I wouldn't. Because you are completely ignoring the desired outcome portion of the equation. Containers provide what companies desire when the hardware underneath the container provides the required elements of high availability, workload migration and continuous uptime during maintenance. Run containers on an HP NonStop server or an IBM mainframe and you get all the bits you want while getting the extra efficiency of containers.
But, shockingly enough, most businesses don't have the money to spend $virgins on mainframes or NonStop servers. So they use hypervisors to lash together commodity hardware into what amounts to a virtual, distributed mainframe. They then package up their applications in their own OSes and move them about.
Are containers realtively easy to deploy and somewhat easy to manage? Sure. I'll even go so far as to say they're way easier to deploy than VMs are, but I will remain adamant that VMs are currently easier to manage. What you're missing, however, is that hypervisors democratize all the other things - portability, heterogeneity, high availability and so forth - that are requirements of modern IT. Containers don't provide mechanisms for that, unless you burn down your existing code bases and completely redesign.
"Even IBM praises the benefits of WPARs (containers) over LPARs (hypervisor) in the majority of use cases, even though it supports both and the latter has rather more hardware support than the typical x86 VM. I can't really improve on their reasoning:"
Of course IBM is touting WPARs over LPARs. They sell the pantsing mainframes that make containers a viable technology. And they only ask the firstborn of your entire ethnic group in order to afford it!
"Better resource utilisation (one system image)"
Nobody is debating this one. Containers are more efficient.
"Easier to maintain (one OS to patch)"
One OS reboot takes down 1000s of containers. Also, you get the lovely issue of having to deal with workloads that may react badly to a given patch being mixed in with workloads that might need a given patch, all running on the same OS instance. Funny, container evangelists never talk about that one...
Easier to archive (one system image)
Oh, please. We're not using Norton Ghost here. Ever since Veeam came along nobody in their right mind has had trouble doing backups, DR or archives of VMs.
Better granularity of resource management (CPU, RAM, I/O)"
That depends entirely on how shit your hypervisor is. Funnily enough, VMware seems to be quite good at providing granularity of resource management.
So, of IBM's four-point path to victory, the only thing that really shines as rationale is "efficiency". And it carefully sidesteps some pretty significant issues ranging from price (we can't all afford mainframes or NonStop servers) to manageability (1000 workloads sharing a single OS can actually be less desirable than, say, 10 OSes, each with 100 workloads.)