Containerisation has moved on from something that was spoken about only at geek conventions and is now part of mainstream development. Gartner has predicted that 85% of global businesses will be running containers in production by 2022, up from 35% in 2019.
It has become clear that organisations that want to remain agile and future-proof their applications have made their decision: to containerise. This means that the focus has shifted to the actual Kubernetes orchestration.
In this TechCentral roundtable discussion (watch the video above, or listen to the audio below), experts came together to discuss how to navigate the journey to empowering an organisation with cloud-native technologies and enabling it to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private and hybrid clouds.
Many organisations are turning to Kubernetes, an open-source container-orchestration system that makes it possible to automate computer application deployment, scaling and management. It was originally designed by Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.
LSD chief technology officer Neil White says there has been a shift among enterprises from believing that only proprietary software eliminates as many risks as possible, and open-source software is now being taken up rapidly.
LSD “solutioneer” Julian Gericke, however, says that this doesn’t mean that open source is necessarily free. “I think that developers and organisations that contribute and form Kubernetes around open-source projects should definitely be rewarded and compensated.”
Of all the models available when it comes to open-source software, open core is emerging as a forerunner. Under the open-core model, Gericke says, the core functionality is open source and freely available, while the enterprise functionality gets built out around that and commercialised.
Bringing open source into containerisation is where tools like Rancher come in, as this lowers the barrier to entry for technologies such as Kubernetes. Rancher is an open-source complete software stack for teams adopting containers. It addresses the operational and security challenges of managing multiple Kubernetes. “It allows us to go a lot faster, but also lowers the barrier to entry for our customers who need to get up and running and up to speed on complicated technology, like Kubernetes,” says Gericke.
SUSE director of partnerships Peter Dalziel adds that Rancher doesn’t make Kubernetes easy because it’s quite a complex technology. However, using the expertise of an experienced team makes it easier because the installation team will work within Cloud Native Computing Foundation guidelines, which assist companies to use containers securely and safely.
Dalziel says there are security concerns around open source. However, this is where organisations such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation come in. These entities provide rigour and structure around security, he states. “Security is one of the things that you’re getting by buying into these well-trodden paths.”
White says LSD believes containerisation is the foundation of how things will be done in the future because it has tackled a lot of fundamental problems in a unique way, which allows business to think differently. “It allows people portability and speed; it gives you the ability to move between clouds.”
However, this isn’t a case of just installing Kubernetes and waiting for miracles to happen. It is a journey that is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, adds White. “It is a daunting task, but it is done in phases. You go to basecamp and then you go to the next one, and you slowly go there.”
White cautions that it’s important to ensure that the building blocks are in place before “throwing things on”. It’s critical, he says, to ensure that basic IT aspects are in place. “They don’t put in quotas, they don’t put in limit ranges, they don’t put in the standard guardrails, and what ends up happening is … you have a situation where a single, tiny application can bring down an entire cluster.”
Organisations need to take care to do the research before going down the containerisation path, he cautions. “My advice would be to speak to people who have done this before.”
A distinct benefit to Kubernetes and containers is that you’re working in microservices, continues White. “You’re working with very small amounts of resources, which gives you the ability, especially in a cloud, to optimise that. You don’t need to run very big workloads in case something happens. You can start off small and build it so that if you suddenly do need extra capacity, your company can handle that.”
Containers will be the next wave of virtualisation, says Dalziel. This is because they allow for agility as well as a greater density per server than what is possible on virtual machines.
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