DockerCon 2017: Major PaaS Announcements Address Microservices, Production Deployments

C. Dunlap
C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Microservice frameworks are evolving to better address containerization complexities.
  • Containerization is at the foundation of comprehensive clouds, enabling microservices.

Attendees of DockerCon’s third-annual conference this week in Austin noted that, this time around, it felt like a real technology conference, despite the fact that the opening ceremony began by volleying a big blue whale among the keynote audience. Real or not, DockerCon’s participant list included all the major application platform leaders, including IBM, Oracle, VMware, Red Hat and others (not to mention several OpenStack infrastructure vendors).

Key themes highlighted major technology gaps that pose barriers to container and microservice adoption. These include the need for microservices tools and frameworks to ease application development and refactoring within containers, as well as complexities around provisioning containers for production deployments. Vendor announcements addressed some of these issues, including Oracle’s acquisition of microservices platform company Wercker, which helps anchor its container strategy; VMware’s enhancements to its enterprise container offering (VIC), the Photon microservices platform; and Docker’s addition of Linux to its platform. (For more information and analysis, please see: DockerCon 2017: Containers Market Segment Becomes Highly Competitive as CXOs Prioritize Next-Gen DevOps, April 20, 2017.)

The general consensus was that virtualization is still required of containerized app deployments. Production technologies are built for VMs, not containers. This is not feasible long term, because it’s not a realistic way for enterprises to run and manage data centers or provision applications. Containers support a more agile, lower-cost and portable option for application development/deployment.

Our recommendations for best practices include choosing vendors that have a grasp of the entire container application lifecycle, because it was clear at this conference that providers are working from two very different camps: OpenStack and PaaS. This disjointed messaging indicates vendors’ internally convoluted strategies. As a result, there’s a lot of confusion among DevOps teams grappling with complex provisioning of containers and questions over what would compel them to refactor their apps to containers.

Despite the hype, most DockerCon attendees acknowledged it’s still early days for containers, and vendors have a ways to go in providing adequate tooling and frameworks to help developers refactor applications for containers, including breaking traditional, monolithic apps into microservices in support of continuous integration. Such enhancements will help compel enterprises to more quickly adopt containerization.

For more on major 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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