30-04-2019

Container technology: 5 reasons how it ensures flexibility and a shorter time-to-market

What is more frustrating than having little flexibility in online services and a long time-to-market? For example, the time it usually takes for the code on a developer's machine to run on the production server? As it seems that the number of start-ups and new business models is growing every year, challengers in the market are more than justifiable concern. As technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, there is a lot of power available for established companies to make a big move in the greater 'to become digital' trend. We gladly explain to you how we see container technology can offer a solution here.

Containers as metaphor of container technology

End of 'lock-in' being a critical success factor 

Container technology has grown considerably in recent years and has gained on popularity. But what are containers and what can they be used for? A container is a package with a fixed format containing the application, plus technical components (libraries, utilities and configuration files) which can function independently from the cloud. Thanks to the uniform set-up of containers, and the adoption of their standard by all cloud and tech providers - compare it with uniform containers on a cargo ship - it is possible that an application can work on every platform and operating system. In short, 'build it once, run it anywhere'.

Docker, Kubernetes and the cloud

Container technology is open-source and is embraced by today's tech giants of the world, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Red Hat. These companies further develop the technology and make it available on various platforms. The most famous container tool is 'Docker', which handles the packaging of applications in containers. However, more is needed to deploy container technology.

In order to make different containers work together you need a container platform; for example, Kubernetes. Kubernetes pushes Docker containers to function together. This platform governs the starting, stopping, automatic recovery, configuring, managing and controlling resources for, among other things, storage. With Kubernetes you set up workflows and determine how and which containers should respond to different user requests. Let's put it this way: if Docker containers are the individual musicians, then Kubernetes is the orchestra's conductor.

"If Docker containers are the individual musicians, then Kubernetes is the orchestra's conductor."

Practical example

So much for the technology behind container technology. If a company wants to apply this technology in its online services for many different business cases, container technology is worth considering, specifically  when it comes to demands regarding flexibility, scalability, value creation for end users and more efficient deployments. For example, at ISAAC we apply container technology to a company that works with multiple multidisciplinary teams on one application and which offers online services across national borders. In this specific case not only in Europe, but also in Asia. Thanks to container technology, you can easily expand to other countries where applications can run multi-cloud at the same time.

5 benefits for business using container standardization

Container technology is a powerful means to achieve benefits in various areas. The combination of Docker and Kubernetes specifically, provides benefits both technical and business related. The most important advantages:

  • Cloud-  and infra agnostic: With container technology, an application works on every platform and independently of the operating system, also when different cloud providers are used.
  • Portability: Containerized applications can be released much faster: in one day, multiple (zero downtime) deployments can take place. This saves a lot of time and costs when delivering software.
  • A/B testing and canary releases: With the deployment of Kubernetes, you no longer manage services yourself. That simplifies the process to run multiple versions of the same application at the same time, which in its turn allows you to conduct better A / B testing and to roll out canary releases more easily.
  • Agility: You can iterate containerized applications faster. After all, you know the code works in all environments. As a result, developers spend less time fixing bugs and can spend more time developing and delivering valuable user functionalities.
  • Scalability: Although the aforementioned advantages also have to do with scalability, in context of container technology however, scalability also has another meaningWith Kubernetes you can easily respond to performance and business metrics of applications and online services, such as the amount of traffic, requests and CPU, number of requests and interactions. Kubernetes automatically detects when it has  to scale up server space during that one important Christmas campaign - and to scale it down again when the peak is over.

Is container technology the holy grail?

Perhaps you are now wondering why your company does not yet use container technology or how you can start using it now. We think it is important to emphasize, that getting started with container technology is not a matter of a 'quick win'. Real profit goes together with making a cultural shift in the IT field. We outline the aspects that are involved:

  • The most appropriate application architecture are micro services. This architecture makes assumptions about the way in which applications handle data, the so-called stateless principle, which therefore works together optimally with container technology.
  • Hosting Docker containers, specifically in combination with Kubernetes, requires knowledge from both developers and the management organization.
  • The culture that best fits the use of container technology, is that of DevOps. In this structure, developers take responsibility for applications to properly run in production environments.

In short, a successful container technology application is primarily based on the right and suitable business case. Want to discuss ISAAC specialists on this subject without obligation? We'd love to give you advise!