Containing Cloud Containers
Everyone in the cloud computing market is talking about containers, containers, and more containers. It’s the topic of a lot of tech press coverage and analyst speculations. Deploying Docker, OpenStack, and other open source container technologies and tools has picked up tremendous cloud market momentum, especially in the last year.
- Are lightweight, flexible application and service environments that share a common virtualization operating system
- Enable much higher resource utilization and faster deployment over traditional virtual machines (VMs)
- Facilitate efficient use of common code and components, enhance development efficiency, and make operations simpler to manage than multiple VMs
Traditional virtualization and cloud vendors have begun to respond with their own container offerings. Or these vendors are acquiring companies that have container-related expertise. The saying “imitation is the best form of flattery” holds especially true with cloud containers. But vendors not jumping on the container market bandwagon have a few tidbits of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to slow adoption in the market. The following container FUD is just enough to make enterprises wary of this relative newcomer to the cloud:
- Containers are immature
- Not all apps or processes work on containers
- Where’s the security in the containers?
- What do customers do with their existing IT investments?
FUD like this sounds vaguely familiar. From 2004 to 2007, data center vendors used it in an attempt to hold back the rise of cloud computing and virtualization. (Some of this continues even today.) After all, at that time, cloud threatened the sales and revenues of data center vendors’ raft of on-premises servers, switches, and other data center-dependent apps and components. The latter was stellar technology in its time, but the cloud provided an alternative.
If you have an especially good memory, you’ll recall the FUD tossed about by companies that opposed virtualization – for all the same reasons listed above. This nearly identical FUD is the same competitive playbook used for nearly every computing evolution that gains significant traction.
Containers: The Next Step in a Long Line of Advances
The reason for this is that corporate computing is voracious in its advances – one technology seemingly devouring or replacing another. But it’s never that simple. Each advance builds on the status quo. Mainframes begat minicomputers, which spawned PCs, which gave rise to multiprocessor servers, which then became the perfect hardware for virtualization.
Containers are another important step in the evolution of enterprise computing. Its advantages are now being demonstrated in production environments. Benefits include better resource utilization, faster DevOps, reusable code and microservices, more efficient business processes, and automated operations.
Most importantly, containers represent the future of cloud native apps. Not coincidentally, containers will lead to the full maturity of cloud computing itself by giving cloud a true “home” for creating native, reusable, flexible, and efficient cloud apps and processes. Up until now, most cloud applications relied on the migration or modification of data center server-based apps. A consortium of major vendors have formed the Cloud Native Computing Foundation to support this evolution to cloud native solutions.
Granted, containers are not yet a wide-spread, fully-adopted technology. But neither was the PC in the early 1980s, VMs in the early 2000s, or public cloud services in 2005. As always, history will repeat itself. The momentum and utility of containers are already too great to ignore. Big industry tech vendors are supporting open source variants or rolling out their own containers. It’ll be very hard to “contain” containers much longer.
Steve Bosak is a senior writer for Hoffman Marketing Communications, Inc. In his eight years at Hoffman, Bosak has specialized in providing B2B marketing and technical writing services to leading enterprises. A 25-year veteran in the industry, Bosak has provided white papers and other product launch and sales enablement materials for many leading cloud product vendors and service providers.