Containers Pushing the Enterprise Toward Cloud-Native Services

    Container technology is making a swift run at the enterprise as developers try to iron out the wrinkles in creating web-facing applications using traditional data infrastructure. The one thing lacking, however, is an effective means to manage containerized services and microservices as they navigate the complex internal and external resource architectures in distributed data environments.

    For many, the answer is simple: Just build apps for cloud-native operations, because this is where the enterprise is heading anyway. But this overlooks the reality that most organizations have made substantial investments in legacy infrastructure and aren’t likely to abandon it just because of a few management hiccups.

    Cloud providers like Skytap appear to be aware of this, which is why its newest container management stack is designed to oversee traditional and containerized apps under a single framework. The Skytap Container Management system aims to provide complete visibility across on-premises and cloud-facing environments to improve collaboration between development and operational teams and foster an accelerated service delivery environment. The system provides a unified management stack that provides self-service cloning, suspension, sharing and other functions, as well as heterogeneous integration with Docker Swarm, Kubernetes and other development tools.

    Still, cloud-native support is growing in the container community, and many providers are looking to capitalize on what is likely to be a lucrative field for start-up businesses and industries.

    Managed service provider KMicro recently upgraded its professional and security services portfolio with the appLariat Container Automation Platform, which the company says will allow clients to gain cloud-native capabilities for existing apps, including full lifecycle management. appLariat uses a policy-based Kubernetes implementation to deploy apps on Amazon, Google and other public clouds, or on cloud platforms like VMware vSphere. In this way, the enterprise is able to support containerized applications through multiple development and production phases, including migration, orchestration and user training.

    Large-scale cloud providers are angling for more container traffic as well. Microsoft recently purchased Kubernetes developer Deis, creator of the open-source Helm package manager and the Steward and Workflow brokerage solutions. The move is intended to not only supplement Microsoft’s existing container capabilities on Windows Server, Hyper-V and Azure, but to bolster the company’s creds as an open platform that enables developers to craft their own customized services. In addition, Deis was an initial supporter of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Kubernetes Managed Service Providers certification program.

    At the same time, the CNCF is working to incorporate container management functions as a core element in its emerging computing framework. The group recently added the basic runtime code that powers both Docker and the CoreOS platform, which should vastly streamline the process of developing containerized apps and distributing them across disparate clouds. According to Enterprise Tech’s George Leopold, one of the trickier aspects of cloud-native management is quickly downloading, verifying and executing large numbers of containers. With the Docker containerd and CoreOS rkt runtime code in hand, the organization can provide the building blocks that allow native container environments to scale cohesively across one or multiple clouds.

    The idea of build once, run anywhere has long captivated the development community, but the disparities that existed across integrated hardware/software platforms have long stood in the way. Even virtual environments did not provide the level of flexibility required for a truly infrastructure-agnostic operating model.

    Containers have the potential to overcome all of these issues, provided the key platform providers don’t get greedy and try to lock users into proprietary schemes. At the moment, the ball is rolling toward greater openness and interoperability. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.


    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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