Containers to the rescue
Industrial port and container yard image via Shutterstock
Containers suffer from a bit of a branding problem. Conversations around containers tend to be a bit too ‘in the weeds’ from a technical perspective, even for many IT professionals. Understanding what they are and how and why they should be used – those questions still linger and far too many organizations have not been able to answer them yet.
Though containers offer enterprise software companies many advantages, adoption has not been as fast as expected. Certified SOA Architect and consultant Roger Stoffers recently noted that more industry work is needed for containers to gain greater enterprise adoption: standardization, packaging that enables easy consumption, management and orchestration, and configuration.
For one thing, containers are suffering from a bit of a branding problem. Conversations around containers tend to be a bit too in-the-weeds technical, even for many IT professionals. Understanding what they are and how and why they should be used – those questions still linger for far too many organizations.
For another thing, enterprises need to shift how they design, build, package and deploy software. Organizations are struggling with too many disparate servers, systems and solutions that need to be brought together. They are drowning in endless integration projects while working with hundreds of software suppliers. At the same time, end customers have come to expect and require a high level of service, necessitating transformation of application infrastructure and architecture.
The larger an organization, the more complexity there is to deal with. Enterprises with a multi-vendor software supply chain often struggle with the amount of maintenance and configuration work they’re faced with. Not only are suppliers constantly requiring this and that from the IT and operations teams, but there are also internal feature and configuration change requests to grapple with. This includes spinning up virtual machines, opening VPN tunnels, assigning IP and DNS addresses, and enabling access for one supplier to integrate with another, among other requests. And each of these can take weeks to process.
Containers to the rescue
Fortunately, container platforms offer an alternative. For modern enterprise IT departments, they present an opportunity to unify the way that suppliers are required to package and deliver their solutions. If properly packaged, suppliers can deploy the entire solution to an enterprise container platform without any assistance from the IT department. They can configure the container stack from start to finish by themselves. Needless to say, they can also test the complete stack on their own development environment, one that’s identical to the actual production environment. From there, all the IT department needs to do is add computing capacity to the container platform when resources run low – a definite boon.
What’s more, container technology can make it easier for an enterprise to adopt the cloud and blur the differences between private, public and hybrid cloud infrastructures. The one-two punch of cloud and containerization offers enterprises a complete packaged solution. As analyst Robert Stroud points out, “Container adoption is being driven by the promise that containers deliver the ability to ‘build once and run anywhere,’ allowing increased server efficiency and scalability for technology managers.”
It’s time to bring containers out of Super Geeky Land and into the enterprise. The IT staff will need to carefully articulate to those holding the purse strings the multiple benefits of container technology. These benefits include shortening the time needed for configuration, setting up virtual machines, standardizing the way suppliers develop and deliver software, accelerating application delivery cycles and, ultimately, lowering costs. There are other benefits waiting to be discovered as you embark on the container journey – Happy Travel.
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People like Patrick Debois, Andrew Shafer and John Allspaw (to name a few) have given us the means to transform this group of concepts into a movement but now it’s time to focus on some of its facets: continuous delivery, business culture, cloud platforms, microservices and container technology. Let’s allow our authors to convince you that these ingredients are equally important to DevOps. Mark Hinkle, VP at The Linux Foundation will tell you what’s next for the effort to improve coordination between software developers and operations personnel while Justin Arbuckle, CTO & Agile, Lean and DevOps Transformation Leader for Sococo, Inc. will explain why measuring DevOps ROI is essential for companies that are embracing the industry’s forward movement.
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