Enterprise container platforms, Part II: Risk, reward and rethinking IT for the next generation
Reassemble your enterprise IT to get the most out of a container platform
The benefits of enterprise container platforms are ultimately a product of the business becoming faster with new, cloud-native applications and simplifying access to resources. But to make this happen, enterprise IT leaders must embrace agile, cloud-enabled technology that reflects business requirements for compliance, security and control.
Risk and investment
Let’s step out of IT for a moment and consider the manufacturing industry, where a transformation called Industry 4.0 is underway:
The assembly line process for manufacturing cars is designed to build one to two models with some minor modifications; it is typically situated in its own area or building. For a new model going to market, manufacturers have to start three to four years in advance clearing a building and setting up a new assembly line. During this time, they must lock doors and windows and only allow limited access to certain people. Depending on the success of the model(s), the assembly line can handle a production load of anywhere between 0 and 100 percent. This scenario represents a high risk on investment cost by one original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
A next-generation assembly line, on the other hand, can build multiple models from different OEMs at the same time. This means that the technology is similar across the assembly line, but processes for handling parts and people will be different based on car model. This approach requires a different way of thinking around how to organize production, manage floor space and separate OEMs. It also involves running early testing on one OEM in parallel with full production on two or three other OEMs. Driven by the varying success of the OEMs and models, the assembly line can handle a 60 to 100 percent load. Maximum savings can be achieved when the load stays between 80 and 95 percent, so this represents a medium cost risk on investment that is shared by multiple OEMs.
Assembling enterprise IT for native cloud applications
How does this analogy map to enterprise IT? Simply put, the processes and interoperation between business and manufacturing are dramatically changing. In traditional IT environments, processes and management are designed to isolate on a virtual machine level and interact through a network. But like the next-generation assembly line, container platforms share everything, which requires IT leaders to rethink both the architecture and operation of the platforms and cultivate a next-generation relationship among business, development and assembly across the entire IT production process.
Container platforms challenge IT leaders to rethink how to compose IT infrastructures and provide resources to lines of business. They require a completely new way of designing technology and defining its role in the value chain.
From my experience, it’s beneficial to start with architecture, security, communication and operation design from scratch. The guiding principle has to be to share everything and control and manage in a way that reflects the requirements of your enterprise.
In my last article, we took a look at microservices and containers and how they work together to save time and money in enterprise IT environments. Stay tuned for my next article in the series, where I’ll share key elements to keep in mind when starting your container journey and discuss how a managed services partner can help you to make your container project a success.