The path to hybrid cloud solutions is full of technologies that claim to power digital transformation and hyperconvergence. While bringing economy and value to existing enterprise IT offerings. Container technology is rapidly becoming the rising star in a field of solutions designed to drive digital transformation, hybrid environment adoption and hyperconvergence.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The idea behind containerisation arrived in 1979 with Unix chroot, an operating system call that changed the root directory of a process and its subprocesses to a new location in the file system. Now modern containers provide a lightweight, virtualised environment that isolates an application and its operating system dependencies into a portable, manageable runtime environment.
CONTAINERS AND HYPERCONVERGENCE: A MARRIAGE MADE IN THE CLOUD
Containers are now positioned to make a massive impact on enterprise IT. Adoption is on an upswing. They are poised to challenge the stranglehold that virtualisation solutions have on the web application market. Containers and virtual machines (VMs) both abstract processes from hardware dependencies. The difference is that containers also abstract the process from its underlying operating system.
This means containers can be faster and offer better isolation than a typical VM. This is because they abstract the application from the operating system kernel. The kernel is still responsible for execution, but an abstraction layer isolates the process workloads from it, protecting the kernel from poorly behaved code.
A misbehaving application can corrupt the entire virtual machine, impacting any other processes that run on that same VM. Containerised applications impact only themselves when they misbehave, allowing the underlying kernel to continue running other containers.
Application isolation and quick spin-up make containers enormously valuable for enterprises that use cloud services. Especially hybrid solutions that bridge cloud and on-premises solutions.
- Size – a container includes only the application files and its dependencies, meaning it’s many factors smaller than a VM.
- Non-persistent – containers encapsulate everything needed to run the application. However, data and other elements can be stored elsewhere, such as in a database or other form of persistent storage.
- Portability – containers can be easily moved from one host to another just by shifting the container files.
- Upgradability – when an application needs to be updated, a newer version of the container can quickly be deployed.
- Scale – containers can be duplicated and redeployed to address issues of scale.
These benefits make containers a good fit for hybrid cloud deployments, where services or applications may need to be deployed both on-prem and in the cloud. Additionally, they also offer the portability to move freely from one environment to another.
GETTING STARTED WITH CONTAINERS
One of the first prerequisites is to deploy a cloud service that provides the necessary elements to launch a container orchestration system:
- Establish what support your cloud service provider offers – if they don’t support a particular container, you’ll have a hard time moving the containers you create from an on-prem host to a cloud service.
- Understand what OS is required to run the containerised applications – some containers can only be hosted on particular versions of Linux, such as CentOS or RHEL. This means those operating systems must be supported by both your internal IT and external cloud hosts.
- Ensure your applications are compatible with the container environments – for example, Microsoft Windows applications will not run in containers that use the Linux kernel. And vice versa.
- Find out what technologies your IT department can support – will deploying containers mean re-engineering existing solutions?
A successful container strategy requires appropriate planning, effective execution and proper management. But the benefits of containers cannot be underestimated. They are rapidly becoming the capstone of hybrid cloud implementations as well as the foundation of convergence.
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‘Container Your Enthusiasm’ taken from article entitled ‘Packaging Your Environment for Hybrid IT’ which appears in HPE guide entitled ‘Foundations of Hybrid IT’.