Business agility, aided by digital transformation projects that enable organisations to respond to market shifts more quickly, are at the top of many organisations' agenda.
This reflects the rapid shift towards a digital-first world where everything is connected at all times.
However, this has put an increasing amount of pressure on companies to get new products or services out faster than ever before, and to respond almost instantly to changes in demand.
As a result, many organisations are changing the way they build and deliver applications just to stay ahead of the curve. By tackling work in smaller increments and simplifying collaboration across functional groups, application teams are dramatically reducing cycle times to deliver results faster than ever before.
The emergence of container technology has been driving this transformation, with companies like Amazon Web Services, Google and Docker building it into the fabric of their business.
Containers first came to the fore several years ago, providing developers with a way of capturing and ‘containing' their work so that it can be shared more easily with others. Not only has this resulted in a streamlined development approach, it has also opened the door to process automation between development and operations teams, hence the emergence of DevOps.
The beauty of containerised code is that it is exceptionally portable. That means development and operations teams no longer need to struggle to maintain identical environments and deployment processes can be highly automated. A welcome change for developers rolling out multiple applications to tight timelines.
While containerisation isn't necessarily a new concept - Linux and Solaris Unix led the way - open-source technology company Docker has driven rapid adoption of containers recently, making it more mainstream.
In the past 12 months alone, Docker saw 40 per cent growth in customer adoption. According to a report by Datadog, that level of growth is forecast to continue, with 60 per cent of large organisations (500 hosts or more) adopting or testing Docker technology.
The reality is most businesses don't have the time or resources to build their own container infrastructure.
But thanks to the containerisation movement, several technology firms have come out with a containers-as-a-service (CaaS) platform, which combines an application development and hosting platform all in one.
This has helped make the technology more accessible, easier to deploy and aided organisations of all sizes in reaching their business goals faster. As a result, it's quickly becoming an essential component of any modern IT infrastructure.
Putting it into practice
Prior to containerisation technology, a company would rely on virtual machines to bring up applications in minutes. Before virtual machines that could have taken days. Now, containerisation technology enables organisations to deploy an application in seconds.
A CaaS platform bundles an application together with everything it needs to run in a cloud or on premise environment. The elements include orchestration, automation, ability to scale, and security, all in one.
The approach encourages a collaborative process where IT teams and developers work together to build, ship and run their applications from anywhere on a unified platform. While containers are very similar to virtual machines, they're often on the same infrastructure so will share the same OS kernel. This makes them considerably lighter on resources than virtual machines.
In practice, developers using a CaaS platform can take a more modular approach to application design and build by composing smaller micro-services.
By focusing on a specific piece of an application, and using containers and container orchestration to deploy and manage an application as a whole, applications should take less effort to maintain and can be deployed easily anywhere - locally-hosted servers, virtual machines, and private and public cloud infrastructure.
It also means developers can remain focused on meeting business objectives instead of dealing with the complexities of creating a container infrastructure.
Transformational business impact
A CaaS platform is designed to equip companies with the tools to meet their goals faster than ever before. It speeds up product time to market, increases operational efficiencies, improves application lifecycles and optimises costs across the business. For a relatively new technology, it's already having a positive impact on businesses around the world.
One of the greatest upsides to CaaS is its impact on resources. That includes developer hours, strain on infrastructure, and costs to the business - all greatly improved thanks to CaaS. For example, if a business is using two containers instead of two virtual machines where the footprint is 50 per cent, they can save 25 per cent on resources. Scale that up to 100 containers and it's a saving no company can ignore.
No matter where a business is at on its digital transformation journey, a CaaS platform is quickly becoming an essential component of any modern IT infrastructure to stay relevant, resilient and competitive in the years to come.
Danny Rowark is director EMEA West, UK and Ireland, at SUSE, which is best known for its popular distribution of Linux
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