Agility, elasticity and automation of container technology will provide new capabilities to businesses who need to support digital platforms. According to the Forrester paper, Containers: Real Adoption and Use Cases, 63 percent of enterprises using containers have over 100 deployed, and 82 percent expect to have more than 100 containers deployed within the next two years. Though container technology is clearly making a mark across enterprises, the journey is just unfolding. What is clear is that containerization will have a profound impact on the future of IT infrastructure.
What is Container Technology?
Containerization, or container-based virtualization and application containerization, works on the OS level of virtualization as a means to deploy and run distributed applications without launching an entire VM for each application. Instead, multiple isolated systems, called containers, are run on a single control host and access a single kernel.
Today containerization spreads in many directions within the enterprise with multiple uses. For instance, it is being used beyond just a single cloud deployment type and cross-platform for private or public on-premise infrastructure. In addition, containerization can be found in production for net-new workloads, net mobility applications, and cloud-native applications. Many enterprises also use containers for traditional workloads like collaboration software, enterprise content management (ECM), and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
Containers and Legacy Applications
Containers are fundamentally changing how infrastructure computing is being used. An area in which container technology will increasingly grow is in facilitating the modernization of older core applications that don’t fit DevOps strategies. Containers enable these legacy applications to be broken down into microservices that are far more agile and flexible in terms of implementation. According to Gartner, by the year 2020 50% of companies will utilize container technology, up from 20% today.
The lower costs and increased speed, portability, and developer efficiency achievable with containers are just the beginning. When it comes to cost reductions, containers are a fraction of the size of full virtual machines and are ideal for supporting DevOps strategies as they enable faster testing and far fewer infrastructure configurations. Consequently, they have been reported to reduce dev/test costs by as much as 70 percent with as much as a 40 percent reduction in production costs.
Containers and the Cloud
At the center of the container evolution is a cloud orchestration layer that can provision the infrastructure required to support the containers, as well as perform the live migration and monitor their health after the migration occurs. Because containers reduce complexity via abstractions, they remove the underlying infrastructure dependencies.
They can better leverage automation, enabling migration from one cloud to another, which will be crucial to the evolving multi-cloud world of the enterprise. The ability to place security and governance features outside of the application with containers enables greater portability and reduced complexity during implementation and operation.
Containers are making it possible to better distribute compute capabilities through the ability to divide applications into many workload bundles, within the same container, that are transportable from cloud to cloud domains. Because these containers can run on any cloud platform and lack the cumbersome nature of virtualized workload migration, enterprises can maximize cost and performance efficiencies by avoiding cloud vendor lock-in. Thus, containers provide a real foundation for moving workloads around hybrid clouds and multi-clouds without having to alter much, if any, of the application.
The outcomes are, for example, that I/O-intensive portions of an application can run on a bare metal cloud for maximized performance while compute-intensive portions can run on a public cloud for better scaling and load balancing. This container placement and division will also have a profound impact on uptime as it will enable the avoidance of outages and performance issues through simple relocation and cost-effective redundancy.
Despite this growth and adoption, the container technology evolution and journey is just beginning. That being said, the ability to standardize application architecture with managed distribution and service orientation ensures that containers will likely become a part of most IT enterprise strategy as a foundational part of agile infrastructure.