Infrastructure configuration is a relatively simple, yet important aspect of deploying and managing containers
It’s no secret that container adoption in enterprise settings is on the rise. In fact, a recent survey from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) found that 84% of respondents were already running containers in production as of 2019. To put this in perspective, the CNCF’s 2016 survey noted that container usage was around 23%, demonstrating the exploding popularity containerized environments have experienced.
This growth makes sense. The new environments simply come with too many benefits for organizations to ignore any longer. But the key point is just that. The environments are new, and it takes careful planning and execution to ensure that container adoption doesn’t negatively impact the organization and its overall goals in the name of trying to drive innovation.
As new technologies are introduced or improved, history has shown that they become more complex and difficult to manage. Containers are certainly no different—they’re one of the most complex software frameworks ever created for a plethora of reasons: persistent storage isn’t built-in; scalability jumps to new heights; they’re generally immutable; and more. However, when containers are done right in enterprise settings, organizations are able to benefit from countless perks, such as less overhead, increased portability and greater efficiency, to name a few.
One of the main reasons why most organizations struggle when first implementing containerized environments into their infrastructure is a relatively simple, yet important aspect of deploying and managing containers: infrastructure configuration. Without making the correct configurations and tweaks to set up your environment for success, it’s next to impossible to enjoy the benefits that businesses implement containers to enjoy.
To help get you on the right path toward transforming to the DevOps culture, the following is a checklist that organizations should reference to ensure their infrastructure is configured properly and ready to take on the powerful nature of containerized environments.
Infrastructure Planning: This is the first step every business should take before deploying containers. What types of upfront, operational, subscription and maintenance costs come with cloud, on-prem and hybrid models? Which model would work best for the business and provide developers with the best possible environment to thrive?
To provide an example, a move to the cloud may make sense for some, due to the flexibility and seamless scalability the cloud provides. But it’s important to also weigh cloud costs for scaling. Cloud providers tend to inflate tiered pricing for higher tiers, and while cost is only one part of the equation, it can be an important one to evaluate closely as you weigh the cost of cloud services with the value of innovation derived from containers.
Properly Containerize Applications: When making the switch to containers, it’s incredibly important that organizations go through the actual process of containerizing their applications instead of simply moving legacy client-server applications into containers. This may require design and implementation changes to the application, but it is a necessary step to drive true innovation.
Storage Planning: Evaluating storage options is another key component of setting up your environment to thrive. There are a handful of flavors to consider, with attached and shared the most popular. In addition, legacy storage models don’t work optimally with containerized environments, so it’s possible you will need to upgrade or tweak your storage practices to benefit from all containers have to offer.
Backups and Disaster Recovery Planning: Even when you deploy in the cloud leveraging cloud technologies, providers enforce shared responsibility, in which the user or business is responsible for its own environments. For this reason, you are not safe in assuming that cloud provider disaster recovery tools and systems will automatically work for a given application. These things may need to be implemented manually or on top of the already established practices.
Evaluate Security and Access Control: After the correct infrastructure configurations are put into place, it’s pivotal that organizations properly evaluate the security and access controls within their environments. This means making sure roles and permissions are set up correctly to ensure consistency across containerized environments.
Maintaining Data Ownership: Make sure you maintain ownership of your data, even if it is hosted in the cloud, to protect it from theft and ultimately so that customers and partners are at ease knowing that you’re properly safeguarding sensitive information. One of the most effective and seamless ways to do this is to encrypt all data no matter where it is stored and to keep the encryption keys in the organization’s possession.