Creating a business case for any IT investment is never an easy task, but it can be a critical piece of winning the support of your leadership team to take on a key initiative. Business cases help to present the expected benefits that can positively affect the bottom line and improve overall operations, while also helping to put the potential costs and unknown factors associated with the new technology into context. The business case to migrate to a container-based architecture is no different, but it is also not a new technology. So why would now be a good time for your organization to consider it?
The decision to move to containers is not only a technical decision, but also an operational and cultural shift. But organizations can realize a number of benefits with containerization, including increased operational agility and security. Let’s dive into some of the key benefits your organization could see with a move to containers.
Reduces Capital Budget Expenditures
When creating a business case, it’s always good to lead off with the potential for real costs savings. There are many ways the move to containers can help to reduce capital budgets. The first way is with savings in staff costs that come with increases in productivity. Because containers are virtual by their very nature, they are not tied to a specific device (either hard drive or server); instead—whether in the case of disaster recovery or the software development cycle’s code migration process from development to test and to production—code and data can be accessed anywhere, preventing manual movement from team to team.
Organizations will also see infrastructure licensing and vendor cost reductions over time. Containers allow organizations to run on virtually every cloud offering and on-premises because the application images are designed to run on any infrastructure, public or private. Similarly, containers have a lower total cost of ownership because they are not virtual machines with operating system licensing costs or operations and maintenance costs, and they do not need hypervisors to work. Containers are cloud and infrastructure agnostic. No vendor contracts, simplified deployment, and lower maintenance costs all add up to big savings.
Increased Business Agility
Working within containers inherently means organizations will have a seamless means to move data from development to production and back again if there are issues. New environments for testing, development, and training can be created without much effort, granting staff the time and ability to take on parallel work streams enabled by the standardization and consistency a container providers in any environment. In other words, staff will have more time to feature development.
Both idle resources and overprovisioned services generate wasted costs. Instead of buying or leasing more cloud or on-premises equipment than you need or worrying you underestimated, with containers, as long as you have enough resources available on the host, you can just spin up more containers if you need them. Instead of big server purchases, more precise, smaller server purchases can be made to make way for the containers you need, growing your footprint in smaller, more cost-effective blocks.
The commonly heard weakness regarding containers comes from the idea that once an attacker gains access to a host, all containers are at risk. However, the industry and the technology have evolved. First, containers only have to run the OS capabilities they need, limiting the number of vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Second, containers run in an unprivileged mode, meaning access up to the root or outside of that container isn’t possible. And, finally, each container has its own memory and CPU, meaning it is isolated from other containers, so attackers can’t move laterally. A single container can also be blown away if it is corrupted, without affecting any others on the same host.
Finalizing the Business Case
The case for container adoption writes itself in many ways. From increases in flexibility to lower maintenance costs, containers can deliver plenty of business value to justify the return on investment. So if you thought you knew containers and what they could mean for your organization, now is a great time to rerun your numbers.