As organizations are moving to a digital-first world of products and services, they’re applying a new focus to what value IT brings to the table. An enterprise container strategy is vital for successful digital transformation.
Digital Transformation changes how we use IT
Only a few years ago, IT was there to support employees and back-office business processes. IT was internally focused on those employees and structured as a service-oriented cost center. The business allocated budget on the premise of ‘change costs money’, often leading to technical debt, understaffed departments and low internal customer satisfaction.
With the rise of technical capabilities, the areas where businesses apply IT has started to broaden up to include digital and online customer support and digital products and services.
This has a significant impact on what IT works on, and how they work. All of a sudden, IT teams needed to move and deliver value quickly to outpace the competition instead of resisting change and keeping costs down to a minimum. IT Technology now is something companies make money with. Convincing management to invest in technology and technical capabilities is easier because of the better ROI and potential customer base.
Looking at successful companies with high-performing IT teams, there’s a couple of technology components we can identify that speed up development of new services and products, reduce barriers to entering new markets and reduce cost.
First and foremost, container technology has some great advantages to the software development lifecycle. The ability to package up an application (and nothing more) into an industry standard disk format means that it can run anywhere, and is light-weight and portable.
These advantages are not to be underestimated, and their value are clear if you compare them to the traditional Virtual Machine approach, where everything needed to run that application is included inseparably. This results in a huge image that is hard to transport. To make matters worse, different virtualization vendors, like VMware, Microsoft and open source technologies like KVM each have their own VM and virtual disk formats, making it impossible to run a VM anywhere.
The inseparability of the Operating System, middleware and application binaries create operational head-aches, too. With the VM-based approach, re-deploying a VM or patching software in the VM is a daunting task, especially at scale. With containers, new versions are deployed as layers that make up the container image, and deploying is as easy as redeploying the container.
It’s safe to say that having an enterprise container strategy for running software will add to the security, cost-savings and agility of your organization. It’s no wonder that CIOs and CTOs jump on the container bandwagon thinking it’s the silver bullet that’ll fix all the problems, and they’re not at fault to think that. But there’s a big difference between ‘I can start a container anywhere in 5 seconds’ and ’50 teams need to use container technology now’.
A good enterprise container strategy differentiates itself by focusing on people and process, not technology. What processes are in place that drive slow release processes? Are people grasping on to technology they already know? Are people that do want to change leaving the company? What small change can we make now showcasing success and entice people to drive the change? What business problem or market opportunity can we solve for using new technology? There’s many good articles out there that can help you kick-start your strategy:
- Smarter with Gartner: 6 Best Practices for Creating a Container Platform Strategy
- How to Make Enterprise Container Strategies That Last
Now of course, there’s many technology challenges to solve when moving to containers. Storage for stateless applications, monitoring those short-lived containers, building CI/CD pipelines to automate the transport of new code from the developer’s laptop into production, creating design patterns that developers live by to take full advantage of the technical capabilities of containers and cloud.
But it all starts by looking at the current bottlenecks in your processes and people, and start by slowly, but surely, change those; introducing new technology where and when it makes sense.
Making sense of it all at Containers Today
If you want to learn more, hear from experts and talk to peers about your Enterprise Container Strategy, please make sure to attend Containers Today, the biggest containerization event in the Netherlands. Apart from the keynotes, Docker, ABN Amro and CZ will share what they’ve learned working with customers on their enterprise container strategy, what pitfalls to avoid and how to empower your teams and wider organisation to unleash the full potential of containers.