How containers and clusters are revolutionizing IT infrastructure
A future-proof IT infrastructure is becoming an increasingly decisive competitive advantage for companies. This is because the customer expectations for apps and websites are growing constantly. To ensure seamless processes and prevent limitations to functionality at all times, companies require tools that guarantee speed, stability and scalability.
Services not only need to be available 24/7, but new functions and updates need to be offered at regular intervals. And all this must be done without impeding the service for the customer. Patience with maintenance or incident-related outages or reductions in service quality is decreasing continuously.
To ensure seamless processes and prevent limitations to functionality at all times, companies require tools that guarantee speed, stability and scalability.
Here, the traditional IT infrastructure in companies often reaches its limits, for example during Christmas time in online retail, when orders peak or hit rates jump massively for a limited time. For this reason, many leading IT companies, like eBay, depend on cloud-native technologies.
Cloud-native technologies enable a constant relocation of the software infrastructure, and as a result maximum flexibility and adaptability.
Advantages of containers and cluster solutions
For the establishment and management of such cloud-based IT infrastructure, container and cluster solutions are considered among experts very promising. Containers offer isolated environments for the execution of processes.
The use of IT containers offers considerable advantages for companies:
Packaging – Through the isolation of applications, typical dependencies can be resolved so that, for example, the functionalities of operating systems or hardware can be almost completely uncoupled from the applications.
Efficiency – Through the uncoupling of hardware and software, resources are used considerably more efficiently, so that the company IT infrastructure can be kept thin. As a result, companies can cut costs and at the same time massively increase the flexibility of their IT efforts.
Portability – Units can be transported over different environments, such as various operating systems or clusters, considerably more easily than before. This means that different departments and units within the company can exchange data significantly better than in the past. This also leads to efficiency and better resource utilization. Plus, companies will be able to avoid vendor lock-in, or the continued dependency on one provider.
Trends in Docker, Kubernetes and Rocket
Although there are already many open-source solutions for the development and orchestration of container and cluster systems available – such as Docker, Kubernetes and Rocket – the technology is still in its early stages of an exciting journey towards broad usage in companies.
En route to this destination, the following landmark developments can be spotted:
Growing competitive pressure and a technological arms race
Docker may still be in pole position among container engines, but the increasing trend of containerization is also boosting the competitive pressure. In the meantime, many companies have come to prefer the CoreOS engine Rocket. As such, CoreOS – for a long time Docker’s most important partner – has developed into a serious rival.
The various providers also attempt to continuously out-do each other technologically – here, above all, scalability, security, interoperability, lightness, runtime stability and user-friendliness are important competitive factors. So Google announced just this May that the Google container engine can, with immediate effect, also support heterogeneous clusters.
Given the great potential of the technology, all providers want to become the industry standard and thus market leaders. As a result, an extremely high speed of innovation can be expected in the area of container technology in the near future, whereas the likelihood of consensus for a common standard is becoming more distant.
Online retail sector as trendsetter
Alongside the usual IT innovators like Google and IBM, the pioneering and technologically affine online retailers like eBay, above all, are putting their faith in container technologies.
Particularly in customer interactions with very high processing demands, containers offer a wide range of advantages, from better handling of order peaks through to immense reductions in costs due to the reduced demands on the company-own infrastructure. As a result, containers should manage to assert themselves considerably faster as the leading standard technology in online retail than in other sectors.
Increasing growth in Europe
Although the United States has been experiencing the trend towards containerization and cloud-native solutions for some time now, the movement is just beginning to take off in Europe and Germany. With Zalando, Otto and Sixt, for example, more and more German companies are shifting their IT to container systems. This goes hand in hand with the increasing professionalization and expansion of the sector.