Cloud platforms have forever changed corporate IT. Infinite scalability coupled with a pay-as-you-use billing model allow dev teams to accelerate deployment and deliver improved services faster without significant capital investment.
Now the introduction of containers is set to change the game again. With the containerisation of business computing workloads being seen as the next step forward in building a highly adaptable digital transformation strategy.
What are containers?
Server virtualisation was a radical data centre evolution, increasing resilience, reducing risk of data loss and helping to generate a greater return on hardware ROI. Virtual servers were also the essential element in early cloud projects.
Also known as cloud-native applications, ‘containers’ take virtualisation a step further. A container is a fully self-contained application that includes everything it needs to run – settings, libraries and dependencies.
Deployed directly onto the cloud platform, containers are managed at runtime using a controller program, like Docker Engine, rather than a VM hypervisor or guest operating system.
Why is containerisation so exciting?
Traditional virtual servers are relatively heavyweight. Every machine is a fully provisioned system, with a full operating system and applications to run your code. You have to license the OS and software and manage and support the servers just like any other machine in your infrastructure.
For a small deployment this approach is fine. But as you scale, the licensing and management overheads become prohibitive. Containers like Docker and Kubernetes operate on a slightly different principle.
Containing nothing more than the application and its dependencies, you immediately avoid the problem of OS and application licensing.
The next stage in your digital transformation
For the digitally transformed business, speed of operations is a strategic priority. The fact that creating and destroying containers is quick and simple is a step towards that goal.
As demand on applications increase, you can automate the deployment of new containers. And you can do so without having to manage a guest OS. Stripping away layers of software also provides direct access to underlying hardware, allowing you to optimise your resource usage and bring cloud bills back under control.
Containers provide a roadmap for the future of your applications. Defining a standardised container structure built around open APIs will help when choosing where your application will be run. This is particularly important as businesses move towards multi-cloud operations. Done right, you will be able to move platforms and providers with minimal disruption.
Optimisation of resource usage is a hot topic. The on-demand nature of cloud platforms makes it easy to spin up processing resources as required. But when using non-cloud native applications this can be costly and wasteful.
Engineering lightweight, efficient containers helps to reduce overheads and prevent wasteful consumption of cloud processing resources. Adopting a cloud-native approach to future application design will help to control costs and free up budget for investment in other strategic projects.
To learn more about containerisation, its benefits, and how to prepare your cloud applications for the demands of the future, please get in touch.