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Containers as Part of a Cloud-First Initiative

Cloud-first initiatives allow organizations to build highly scalable and available applications, improve efficiencies and productivity, and reduce expenses associated with data centers. One technology that simplifies development for the cloud and other targeted platforms is containerization. This post is Part 6 of our cloud-native series; get the rest of the picture by starting with Part 1.

What are containers?

According to IBM, “containers are executable units of software in which application code is packaged along with its libraries and dependencies, in common ways so that the code can run anywhere—whether it be on desktop, traditional IT or the cloud.”

You’re not far off if that definition sounds a bit like a virtual machine to you. Virtual machines (VMs) include a guest OS, which containers do not. As a result, containers are lighter weight – improving their speed and portability. This speed and portability make it easier for developers to focus on their code instead of the overhead of building, running, and testing across many different deployment platforms. As a result, companies can bring their applications to market faster and spend less time maintaining them.

One of the more recognizable names in the container space is Docker–so much so that the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, although other types of containers, such as Mirantis, are on the market.

How do containers power cloud initiatives?

Creating applications for multiple platforms can be time-consuming for developers, who code on one machine type but need to ensure their applications work for all users–regardless of what they use.

Because cloud-based applications use cloud computing, memory, and other resources, the cloud is a more stable deployment target. Running applications in the cloud can even help end users access newer, more secure versions of software that may not otherwise run on older machines.

An organization may start by developing for a single cloud provider but later decide they want to deploy on competing providers. They may choose this because their end customers have a strong vendor preference (e.g., AWS instead of Azure) to avoid cloud vendor lock-in or to be more resilient to their primary cloud’s underlying compute and storage changes. To do this, they must ensure their applications are portable to other clouds. However, developing for more than one cloud can result in the same pain point for developers: how to ensure their code runs well on different vendors, in a hybrid cloud, or on-premises.

This is where containers shine. Because containers include the application code and all of its libraries and dependencies, applications become more portable and resilient to change. By beginning with a container approach, you prepare your team to expand to other clouds before you need it and without a considerable rewrite.

Container orchestration

When you need to group many containers to deliver a service, orchestrating all these different parts becomes complex. Kubernetes, an open-source system, acts as a conductor, ensuring the containers work well together and in unison, even when the containers are on different hosts.

Get started with containers

ReleaseTEAM’s consultants can help you evaluate and test the right container approach for your business.

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