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Unleashing The Full Potential of Containeraization for DevOps, and Avoiding First-Time Pitfalls

#Containerization is a powerful tool that simplifies #DevOps as it delivers application packaging in a convenient form along with the opportunity to automate certain IT provisioning processes. Click To Tweet

It makes possible for the DevOps teams to focus on their priorities – Ops team preparing containers with all required dependencies and configurations and the Devs team to focus on efficient application coding that can be easily deployed.

This automation is achievable via PaaS or CaaS solutions that offer extensive benefits like accelerating time to market, eliminating human errors and utilizing resources more efficiently. Some more benefits of containerization are as below:

  • With container-based virtualization, you get guaranteed highest application density and also you can utilize the server resources to any extent in comparison to virtual machines.
  • It is possible to run different types of applications on the same hardware node in consideration to advanced isolation of system containers which helps in reduction of TCO.
  • The unconsumed resources within container boundaries get shared automatically with other containers running on the same hardware node.
  • When containers automatically scale vertically, they optimize CPU and memory usage based on the current load, and don’t require to restart to change the resource limits compared to VM scaling.

A careful attention to several changes is required when unleashing the potential of containerization for DevOps , however, in particular for full-time adopters.

Realizing Project Needs

Initially, DevOps teams should analyze the current status of their projects and then take a decision on the requirements to move to containers for realizing long-term ongoing benefits.

The right type of container needs to be selected for optimal architecture. There are two types:

  • An application container (Docker containers) runs as little as a single process.
  • A system container (LXC, OpenVZ) behaves like a complete OS and can run full-featured unit systems like SysVinit, systemd, openrc that allow it to spawn other processes like crond, openssh, syslogd together inside a single container.

Application containers are typically more suitable for new projects as it becomes relatively easy to create the necessary images using publicly available Docker templates considering specific requirements of microservice patterns and modern immutable infrastructure design.

Containers are good only for greenfield applications (microservices and cloud-native). While migrating from VMs, the legacy applications require a bit of extra work at initial phase so that containers can breathe new life into them.

System containers are preferable for monolithic and legacy applications so that the architecture and configurations implemented into original VM-based design can be reused by the organizations.

Future-Proofing Containerization Strategy

Today when you determine your project requirements, one of the best ways is to think about the future and learn the technology trend. Complexity increases with a project growth, so a platform for automation and orchestration of the key processes will most likely be required.

It is a complex and dense process to manage containerized environments and PaaS solutions help developers focus on coding. Container orchestration platforms and services consists of several options. It can be challenging to figure out the best one for the needs and applications of a particular organization, specifically when requirements keep changing frequently.

Below are points that need to be considered while choosing a platform for containerization:

  • Flexibility: A platform with a sufficient level of automation is foremost that is adjustable easily based on different requirements.
  • Level of Lock-In: Being proprietary always, PaaS solutions are able to lock you into one vebdor or infrastructure provider.
  • Freedom to Innovate: There needs to be a wide range of built-in tools offered by the platform, along with the ability to integrate third-party techniques such that it shouldn’t constrain the ability of developers to innovate.
  • Supported Cloud Options: When containerization in the cloud is being used, its significant your strategy supports the three cloud deployments – public, private and hybrid when the requirements change at the end.
  • Pricing Model: It is typically a long-term commitment made while choosing a specific platform. Therefore, the type of pricing model is important to be considered. VM-based licensing is offered by many public cloud platforms that can be chargeable only for real usage instead of reserved limits and which may be inefficient in case you have already migrated to containers.

Your business success is influenced by the platform you have chosen and so the selection process needs to be critically considered.

Expertise

The task of adoption of containers successfully isn’t ideal. Container management requires a completely different process and knowledge base as compared to virtual machines. There is a vital difference between managing both and several best practices and tricks practiced with VM management aren’t applicable to containers. In order to avoid costly mishaps, the Ops team should need to educate themselves.

The skill set of traditional operations is out of date when containerization in the cloud needs to be well-organized. Management of infrastructure hardware and networks is delivered by cloud providers now, and a request is defined to the Ops team to automate software deployment with scripting and using container-oriented tools.

The expertise can be provided by consulting companies and systems integrators which can increase the benefits of containers. In case you need an in-house team for the complete process management, you need to start building your own expertise that includes learning best practices, hiring experienced DevOps professionals, and creating a new knowledge base.

Investing Time and Effort

Instant containerized structure can’t be expected. It is essential to invest some up-front time, particularly if your architecture requires restructuring to run microservices. When it comes to migrating from VMs for example, it is a must to breakdown monolithic applications into small logical pieces distributed among a set of interconnected containers. Specific knowledge is required to complete this process successfully.

Additionally, large organizations need to crucially select a solution that handles workloads of heterogeneous types using VMs and containers within one platform since enterprise-wide container adoption can be a gradual process.

Security Concerns

The extremely dynamic nature of containerized environments has the ability to change in a quicker way as compared to VM environments. Though this agility adds to huge benefit of containers, it can be challenging in terms of achieving appropriate security level at the same time enabling the required quick and easy access for developers.

Below is a set of security risks that need to be considered with containerization:

  • Container technology at basic level doesn’t easily deal with network configurations, interservice authentication, partitions and other concerns related to network security when calling internal components within a microservice application.
  • It is risky to use container templates that are publicly available packaged by untrusted or unknown third parties. This type of container can easily face vulnerabilities intentionally or unintentionally.

Continuously enhancing technologies need to complement traditional security approaches for keeping pace with today’s dynamic IT environment. One of the key points here is continuous evolvement of a wide selection of tools and orchestration platforms. They offer certified as well as proven templates, ease the configuration process and help to secure containers.

A wide choice of solutions for container orchestration is now offered by the IT market that makes adoption easier but one needs to be expert in order to fully leverage benefits and avoid unexpected consequences.

After getting a closer insight on the importance of containerization for DevOps along with the challenges and solution to overcome them, it is time to opt for the MilesWeb PaaS which can serve a helping hand during this evolutionary shift.

Pallavi Godse

Pallavi is a Digital Marketing Executive at MilesWeb and has an experience of over 4 years in content development. She is interested in writing engaging content on business, technology, web hosting and other topics related to information technology.

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