As organizations look to increase flexibility, speed and efficiencies in their workflows, DevOps and containers are a natural fit
The world continues to speed up, with faster business cycles, more dynamic changes and higher customer expectations for responsiveness. Organizations feel pressured to innovate faster than ever, with accelerated application releases and updates within hours or days rather than weeks or months. As a result, agility and digital transformation have never been more critical to the enterprise.
It is vital for development teams to be flexible and nimble in their work, but legacy IT systems and development tools often leave developers frustrated and prevent them from reaching this type of real-time agility. IT teams are looking to solutions, such as containers, that can enable the “peeling off” of the monolith into more discrete services (at times called microservices), as well as new approaches to collaboration such as DevOps that give developers the flexibility, efficiency, feedback loops and speed needed for more agile workflows.
What’s Driving Developers to Containers?
While not always the answer, many developers and data scientists find containers to be an excellent solution for meeting the accelerated deployment, mobility and flexibility demands they face. On a high level, shifting to containers offers a consistent, repeatable process that enables a uniform experience by all stakeholders. That repeatability and consistency, among other things, translates into lower entry barriers for newcomers and lower operational costs due to the uniformity a service offers when encapsulated in a container. In other words, operational engineers have the same coherent process whether in a test, pre-production or production environment (both on-premises or on a public cloud). Furthermore, they are also helped by container orchestrators such as Kubernetes.
Containers enable developers to work at a higher abstraction level: They can focus on coding while other teams can focus on their expertise, but all with a common format that enables them to have a clearer dialogue and better understanding. Containers also provide simple answers to complex and time-consuming problems including automated packaging, distribution and execution. They effectively become the single binary of the build pipeline of an organization.
By easily allowing continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) provisioning pipelines, automated testing and organization-wide usage, containers allow for lower risk of failure and enable developers to spend more time on valuable activities that drive innovation within their organization, such as experimentation.
The Intersection of Containers and DevOps
The benefits and function of containers are, therefore, more compatible with a DevOps process than other traditional technologies. As a consistent package, containers travel easily across teams and their uniformity helps aid communication between departments, enabling developers to be consistent in everything they do. Their small size also works to DevOps’ advantage—at just a few megabytes, they are easy and fast to move around and intuitive for many teams to employ.
Further, containers provide an opportunity for cross-functional teams to address all lifecycle issues much earlier in the development process. As such, the forced-upon-us design stage enables organizations to embrace a willingness to fail versus trying to avoid issues. Because containers are fast to deploy and typically only support a single service with little surrounding infrastructure (no OS services, no network stack, no default storage) developers are able to think more broadly from the outset, troubleshooting all potential issues and solutions at a much earlier stage. This is one of the strongest points of DevOps collaboration in the industry with containers.
DevOps enable organizations to capture all processes in an auditable and replicable way, while changing and adapting quickly so the cost of change is low. This empowers different teams to work together and complete projects at much higher speeds. Pairing containers and DevOps creates a culture that allows for constant experimentation and transparency across stakeholders, and enables IT teams to better identify inefficiencies and shift priorities at an accelerated rate.
Finding Value in Containers and DevOps
As companies evaluate costs and look for ways to accelerate time to market, development teams will continue to see increased value in containerized deployment due to their ability to foster a collaborative, efficient environment that helps break down silos. This focus on communication and development speed along with agility will continue to power the DevOps methodologies needed to achieve the nimbleness and transparency necessary for organizations to remain competitive.