Cloud Offerings Evolve to Usher in Containerization, Microservices

Charlotte Dunlap – Senior Analyst, Application Platforms

• Microservice frameworks are evolving to better address containerization complexities

• Containerization is at the foundation of comprehensive clouds, enabling microservices

Cloud players with a vested interest in platform services to virtualization and private cloud are refining their strategies to emphasize the importance of application containerization. PaaS’s are downplaying the building and hosting of monolithic and even N-tier apps, for clouds which now include containerization plus the use of microservices and distributed service components to support continuous delivery of services and applications. Containerization has spurred a shift among IT operations and the development and deployment of applications in ways that reduce data center costs and speed the app development/deployment process. Aside from the growing buzz around new development architectures such as serverless computing, containers have become the most viable and immediate solution for deploying applications to ensure speed, agility, and continuous delivery. Containerization is still evolving, however. Other than ISVs supporting massive, monolithic applications, the majority of enterprises have not yet been compelled to re-architect small, departmental apps using this new app deployment format in production environments. But, the evolution of comprehensive management technologies indicate containerization will become easier to adopt, and leading cloud providers are now positioning containers at the forefront of their cloud strategies.

Containerization has nudged enterprises into taking on microservices, a new cloud architecture for distributed applications composed of smaller, individual processes or codebases within an application. Microservices can be delivered through containers and connected via common APIs. This contrasts with traditional, monolithic applications made up of a single, typically large codebase that is difficult to continually update in a timely manner. The software design pattern approach of microservices plays nicely into the plans of enterprises that have transformed their data centers and may be choosing open source software (OSS) technologies and cloud services to reduce costs and simplify application deployment.

App development containerization has existed for almost four years, based on availability of Docker’s container specification, with widespread developer adoption. However, the technology has not had the level of impact within the data center as virtualization, because of the cost/benefit ratio for re-architecting for all but massive projects. New container/microservices tools and frameworks as a way of justifying containers more broadly will be a major driver in coming months.Theses microservices frameworks leverage modern languages such as Go and important OSS projects such as MicroProfile – e.g., IBM is working on a turnkey solution called Microservice Builder to ease development using microservices, as well as hybrid and containerized apps using Java and MicroProfile. Meanwhile, enterprises have been building their own frameworks to support data access through APIs, typically running Java/Node.js combined. Use cases such as Netflix are achieving continuous delivery by isolating each app and running them in a Docker container as part of a microservices architecture, where constant updates are pushed to the backend server in the form of a Node.js container.

For more on other trends around containerization including the state of the orchestration/management market, and a recap of leading containerization solutions, please see State of the Containerization Market, and its Limitations, March 31, 2017).

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