Applying Analytics to the Docker Container Environment

One of the things that IT operations teams are going to have to come to terms with is how rapidly containers will come and go inside an IT environment. While container such as Docker promise to substantially increase utilization rates, they each Docker container in which a task runs is only live for the duration of the process itself. Without some help in the form of an advanced analytics application IT operations terms are going to have a hard time figuring out what exactly happened when.

To address that issue WhiteSource has extended it’s the analytics technology it create to keep track of open source software to Docker containers. WhiteSource CEO Rami Saas says WhiteSource Docker Container Analysis software is designed to analyze both the container and the software installed on it. That analysis spans both security vulnerability and open source license information for the operating system in each container as well as for the applications running on top of them. The database that WhteSource created to house that that information is regularly updated as new vulnerabilities get discovered.

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Capable of supporting 16 different programming environment, Saas says IT operations teams need more context about the surrounding IT environment to better understand how any given vulnerability might affect both the container and the applications.

In general, Saas notes that most containers today are still being deployed on top of virtual machines. After all, the existing tooling that most IT operations teams have at their disposal is optimized for virtual machines. Containers deployed on top of virtual machines are also perceived to be more secure. But as Docker container technology continues to mature it’s only a matter of time before more instances of containers are deployed on bare metal servers to attain higher utilization rates than what can be achieved by relying on virtual machines. The end result, says Saas, will be something resembling a hybrid container environment for years to come. To manage that level of complexity IT operations teams will need access to analytics tools capable of being used across multiple container deployment scenarios, says Saas.

At present Saas says that independent software vendors (ISVs) are leading the way in terms of Docker adoption as many of them become provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in the cloud. Because containers allow those ISVs to minimize their IT infrastructure costs by increasing utilization Saas says many of them now view containers as key contributor to their bottom line. It’s only a matter of time before traditional enterprise IT organizations looking to build and deploy private clouds discover the same issue, says Saas.

In the meantime, IT operations teams should get used to the idea that much of the institutional memory about the overall environment that IT administrators use to keep in their heads or in a spreadsheet is about to get embedded in an analytics application. That won’t eliminate the need for those IT administrators. But the days when most of the administrators spent most of their time just trying to figure out what changed from one day to the next will soon be coming to a close.

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.

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