December 16, 2017

IBM has become the latest in a string of cloud service providers to make Kubernetes available as a managed service.

At the IBM InterConnect 2017 conference today, IBM unfurled IBM Bluemix Container Service, which extends IBM’s support for Kubernetes beyond merely being able to host the open-source container orchestration engine for managing Docker containers on the IBM Cloud Platform.

While interest in Kubernetes is high across the DevOps spectrum, many IT organizations find implementing it to be a challenge. Rather than build their own Kubernetes clusters to host applications based on containers, many of them find it simpler to invoke Kubernetes as an externally managed service.

As part of that service, IBM is making available Vulnerability Advisor, a tool for scanning containers for vulnerability issues. In addition to continuously monitoring each container, Vulnerability Advisor is integrated with the IBM’s X-Force Exchange threat intelligence sharing network. Via that service, each container used is continuously checked for potential malware, breaches or attack vulnerabilities.

In general, most containers today are deployed on public clouds. Rather than wait for internal IT organizations to master all the nuances of building a container cluster, developers have been opting to build and deploy a variety of microservices on public clouds. As more traditional enterprise IT organizations move to embrace microservices, IBM is betting that its cloud services will prove more attractive than rival public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or the Google Cloud Platform.

With that in mind, IBM at the InterConnect conference today also unveiled IBM Cloud Integration, a suite of software designed to facilitate integration of both cloud-native and legacy applications across private and public clouds. Don Boulia, general manager of cloud developer services at IBM, says the goal is to enable IT organizations to more easily manage data regardless of where it happens to be deployed. In fact, Boulia says most organizations generally would be well-advised to process data wherever it happens to reside than incur all the costs and security challenges associated with trying to move data into a central data center. While data may be processed locally, however, Boulia says frameworks such as IBM Cloud Integration will prove critical in terms of sharing the results of processing data across and between thousands of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Over time, Boulia says the longer-term trend is toward hybrid cloud computing enabled by highly portable Docker containers used to construct microservices. Microservices, he says, represent a more granular approach to deploying applications that harkens all the way back to the rise of service-oriented architectures (SOA). The difference now is because microservices are a more granular instance of a service, it’s much easier to isolate, update and secure specific functions.

The challenge most IT organizations will face is weaving all those distributed microservices together in a way that enables them to be centrally managed. In fact, it may very well turn out that providing the framework for managing all those microservices winds up being the bigger opportunity for IT vendors such as IBM.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.