4 Ways DDI Containerization Can Drive Network Agility

Today’s network teams face myriad challenges such as trying to speed up the DNS, DHCP and IP address management (DDI) aspects of continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines or working through IP assignment and DNS management issues that are surfacing as work moves to multi- and hybrid cloud infrastructures. With digital transformation a priority for many organizations, these challenges are only set to grow. To address these issues, organizations must achieve more economical and agile ways of scaling the infrastructure delivering these network services, while also being a good partner to other IT and business teams.

Enter container-based DDI. With containers, everything that an application needs to run (i.e., configuration files, libraries and language versions) is decoupled from the target environment where the application will run. Containers allow greater agility to be achieved by ensuring the following:

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Connectivity for deployments anywhere

Containers are incredibly versatile and can be deployed on a variety of platforms, from public and private cloud to physical devices and virtual machines. This flexibility enables network teams to have more choices when it comes to where and how their containerized DDI software is deployed. This is very important for network teams that are increasingly being asked to navigate a wide range of environments, such as cloud-based data centers, colocation facilities and private cloud network fabrics—or a hybrid mix of these—as various business units migrate their workloads.

While the benefits of deploying anywhere are significant, assuring service connectivity between cloud-based applications and on-premises applications can be a challenge. Multi- and hybrid cloud strategies can result in a web of components that network teams need to stitch together, creating complexity and confusion. By delivering DDI infrastructure via containers, service connectivity can be simplified, resulting in connectivity that is seamless, anywhere.

Improved performance at the network edge

Since all containers share the same host system’s kernel, they require fewer resources than virtual machines, making it possible for containers to reside on devices with smaller footprints than those of typical hardware or virtual appliances. In large corporate settings, this can free up valuable space for other needs. This also makes it possible for remote or smaller offices to run applications and infrastructure without incurring the additional costs of shipping hardware or the productivity hit of an engineer traveling to and from remote locations. Containerized DDI can even be deployed on switches that have native Docker container support. Not only does this save costs (and effort), but it also improves performance by delivering DNS and/or DHCP capabilities closer to the network edge and application users.

Reduced deployment time from treating infrastructure as code

Typically, when it comes to deployment, everything is manual—from provisioning and configuring to validating and testing. This can make deployment a time-intensive process that often leads to implementation issues and feature-delivery delays.

With containers, since there is no guest OS to bootstrap, configure and connect with container deployments, the time involved can be reduced significantly. Containers can be deployed and configured to the network, and a DNS record can be established with configured application-specific traffic steering policies instantly when the application is deployed.

Treating network infrastructure as code (IaC) changes the traditional device-by-device management approach into automation for networking tasks. Instead of configuring each device separately each time by running a script, network engineers create software files that define consistent ways of provisioning, configuring and deploying infrastructure, dramatically reducing the time involved.

Scalable and flexible use cases

It’s quite common today for organizations to spin up temporary environments for short-term testing or batch jobs, or to support live events or conferences. The growing use of microservices architectures for digital transformation reinforces the short-lived nature of enterprise production environments. To meet the ever-changing needs of enterprises, network teams need solutions that are equally adaptable.

Containerized microservices simplify and accelerate deployment to the point where autoscaling capabilities can become an intrinsic part of business applications. Individual services can be programmatically replicated or decommissioned to adjust capacity within minutes. This adds to the requirement for IP and DNS updates at higher rates.

Many network teams have experienced the frustration associated with deploying legacy appliances that are used for such a brief period that the deployment time involved is greater than the time the appliance is actually in operation. Container-based DDI eliminates this frustration. Not only can the containers be deployed rapidly via IaC automation, but the IP and DNS updates also happen programmatically through DDI APIs. High-performance APIs and rapid data propagation to distributed containers enable more frequent record updates, which in turn enables organizations to unlock flexible scaling advantages for their modern microservices-based applications.

With digital transformation taking center stage for many enterprises, it’s critical as organizations map out their strategies to also factor in the modernization that is needed for such foundational technologies as DDI. DDI containerization enables the transition from static network infrastructure to continuous delivery of software-defined networking services and empowers network teams with the same automation tools and infrastructure constructs that are used by their DevOps counterparts.

The ultimate benefit? Enterprises can accelerate application deployment across their various environments as well as improve efficiency dramatically without having to incur the overhead of managing traditional network appliances.

Jasmine Noel

Jasmine Noel is a senior product marketing manager at NS1. Her career began as an industry analyst covering network management technologies. She then founded Ptak, Noel & Associates to provide research and marketing services to IT technology firms. Prior to NS1, Noel also held product marketing roles in growth companies, including Corvil and Veracode.

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