IBM is aiming to expand the ecosystem of containerized applications residing on its cloud by making available Cloud Paks designed to make it easier to deploy applications using a set of tools developers can embed in their applications.
An IBM Cloud Pak is made up of automated provisioning tools designed to ease deployment of containerized applications based on Docker and Kubernetes to a public cloud.
Danny Mace, vice president for the IBM App Platform, says the goal is to provide a much better experience for developers when they first deploy containerized applications on the IBM Cloud. Mace is also careful to note there is nothing proprietary about IBM Cloud Paks; they also can be used to deploy containerized applications more easily on any cloud, he says.
As developers embrace microservices based on containers to develop new applications, IBM clearly sees an opportunity to make up some ground against cloud rivals such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) that have a much larger portfolio of applications running on their public clouds. Containers and Kubernetes are much more portable than applications developed for specific types of virtual machines. As such, developers are finding it more economically attractive to make their applications available on multiple clouds.
At the same time, Mace notes that IBM is also making it easier to lift existing legacy applications to its cloud using containers. Rather than having to refactor those applications, IT organizations can encapsulate legacy applications in containers that makes it possible for them to run on any platform. IBM is then committed to providing a management and integration framework layered on top of Kubernetes to make is easier to centrally manage new and legacy applications, says Mace, noting otherwise, IT organizations need to support two or more management frameworks for legacy and modern applications.
It may take a while before enterprise IT organizations completely transition to containers and microservices, but Mace says most of them now recognize such a transition is inevitable as part of any effort to make IT more agile. The issue is not so much whether organizations will adopt microservices and containers as much as it is how and when, he says.
A recent report from 451 Research forecasts the application container market will increase to more than $4.3 billion by 2022 from $2.1 billion in 2019, representing a 30 percent compound annual increase.
Of course, the pace at which any IT organization will make this transition will vary widely. Most IT organizations today don’t have a lot of internal expertise when it comes to technologies such as Kubernetes clusters. Because of that issue, many of those IT organizations at least initially are relying on managed Kubernetes services provided by IT vendors to deploy containerized applications. Less clear, however, is how long they will continue to rely on those services once they become more adept at deploying and managing containerized applications.
In the meantime, IBM is trying to create a level of critical mass for containerized applications in the cloud that will force IT organizations to confront that, and other related container management issues, head on.