February 24, 2020 By Pierre Coyne 4 min read

Using containers to build a stable, secure, flexible, and scalable infrastructure to support your ongoing digital transformation

Today, hybrid cloud adoption plays an increasingly pivotal role for organizations looking to modernize their applications and workloads. The decision to bridge the gap between on-premises and cloud-based infrastructures has helped these organizations streamline their operational processes and improve enterprise scalability.

Whether or not your organization has opted for a hybrid cloud approach, the use of containerization technology can be vital to its success. Containers improve efficiencies when developing larger applications; when deployed in a hybrid cloud environment, they can significantly boost application performance, minimize operational costs, and streamline DevOps processes.

Before we discuss the benefits of using containers in a hybrid cloud environment in detail, we first need to understand the fundamentals of both components.

What is a hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud is the seamless integration of on-premises infrastructures with private and public cloud services. Hybrid cloud gives an organization the agility and flexibility to shift workloads from on-premises to public or private cloud infrastructure, or to ‘cloudburst’ on-premises applications to leverage additional capacity from the cloud—all while managing everything as one unified infrastructure. This is especially useful when managing applications and workloads in multiple virtualized machines across large multicloud environments.

In the following video, Sai Vennam explains hybrid cloud in a bit more detail:

What are containers?

Containers are a lighter-weight, more flexible way of virtualizing compute infrastructure than virtual machines (VMs) by themselves. VMs are beneficial for application provisioning and for using physical hardware more efficiently. But, because VMs need to be provisioned with a complete copy of an operating system, they can become quite bulky and cumbersome as the underlying infrastructure for modern, lightweight applications.

Containers rely on operating system virtualization to provision an application with only the subset of the operating system required to run the code, significantly reducing their size and improving application performance compared to VMs. And, because containers are portable and platform-independent, they are ideal for distributed development. They can run in any computing environment without modification or additional configuration.

See the video “Containerization Explained” for more background on the technology:



Why are containers important in a hybrid cloud?

Containers are so popular in hybrid cloud environments because they eliminate many of the disadvantages of rolling out large, monolithic applications that can become more complex and cause performance issues over time.

Some of the benefits of using containers in a hybrid cloud architecture include the following:

  • Improved portability: Containers give developers the ability to create smaller, better-performing workloads for their applications. This makes it easier to shift these workloads from on-premises to public and private cloud networks. The lightweight, portable design of containers brings unparalleled flexibility to DevOps teams looking to bridge the gap between their cloud ecosystems while isolating applications into secure, virtualized environments. Containers are also perfect when implementing a cloud-bursting solution to, say, dynamically improve storage capacity or accommodate unexpected surges in application or network traffic.
  • Improved workload automation: Container orchestration platforms, such as Kubernetes, help automate the deployment of containerized workloads across the entire hybrid architecture. This allows organizations to easily deploy and run their containers on clusters of servers at different locations and in a synchronized manner. Kubernetes also significantly improves the scalability of containerized workloads by enabling developers to easily add additional clusters to their existing infrastructure automatically, as needed, resulting in less application downtime and better performance. 
  • Ready for cloud native development: For most organizations, the move to a public or private cloud environment doesn’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean development teams shouldn’t prepare for the inevitable transition. (Industry analyst Gartner predicts that more than half of companies using cloud today will move to an all-cloud infrastructure by 2021.) When developers write, test, and deploy applications inside containers, the environment stays the same regardless of where the application resides and becomes a perfect cloud native-ready solution. Eventually, as organizations move to PaaS and serverless infrastructures, containers give them the flexibility they need to quickly pivot their approach and deploy their application seamlessly without interruption.

Microservices and containers

Microservices-based applications can also benefit significantly from containerization. Because containers offer isolation at the operating system level, multiple components can run off of a single OS license, helping organizations significantly reduce their overhead costs.

Containers also provide flexible storage options when running microservice applications. Unlike VMs, which are limited to stateful storage formats, containers have the option of being formatted as stateful or stateless. This means that each microservice application’s storage capacity can be managed independently from other connected services, providing better flexibility and control. 

Overall, hybrid cloud and containers are a great match. By using containers in your virtualized hybrid cloud environments, you can build a stable, secure, flexible, and scalable infrastructure to support your ongoing digital transformation.

Learn more and get started

IBM’s hybrid multicloud platform is built with Red Hat Linux containers, Kubernetes, and Red Hat OpenShift, which are all open standards-based technologies ideal for cloud native development.

Our Red Hat-powered solution allows you to choose the best architecture and approach to address your unique application and workload requirements, while giving you the flexibility to move your applications anywhere, from development to production, safely and efficiently.

Read more about our unique platform to see how you can optimize your workflow and reduce hardware costs in the hybrid cloud.

Sign up for an IBMid and create your IBM Cloud account today.

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