No one would argue that in the age of the cloud, we face an increased need to move workloads around to take advantage of the better economics provided by a broad spectrum of cloud service platforms. But beyond that, there’s not much agreement about how to best go about doing that.
Conventional wisdom up until now has focused mainly on moving the virtual machine that hosts the application workload across the network. Adoption of that particular approach has been fairly limited, however, because of all the complexity involved.
Now an alternative approach based on the concept of lightweight containers that allow application workloads to be more easily moved between environments is starting to gain momentum. Based on open source Docker container technology developed by dotCloud, the containers allow organizations to much more easily move applications between servers.
Docker containers can run on top of bare-metal servers or virtual machines. That approach, says dotCloud CEO Ben Golub, gives IT organization the option of deploying application workloads on the type of servers they see fit, versus approaches that require IT organizations to standardize on the same virtual machine platform on premise and in the cloud.
Most recently, Red Hat has announced its support for Docker containers running on its OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments that can be deployed on premise or in the cloud. According to Joe Fernandes, manager of product management at Red Hat, Docker providers a more convenient way to move application workloads around the enterprise than virtual machines. Some organizations may opt to still move virtual machines, but Fernandes says the Docker approach is both more flexible and easier to manage.
Whether this container approach to application portability takes off outside of Linux environments remains to be seen. But if it turns out that Linux as a platform makes it easier to move application workloads in the age of the cloud, you can be sure Red Hat is going to make a compelling case for why containers are one more reason that enterprise IT organizations may want to standardize on Linux both inside and out of the cloud.