Enterprise container platforms, Part IV: Embarking on your container journey

Build a strategy to implement a container platform in your enterprise IT environment

By | 3 minute read | January 7, 2020

In this series so far, we’ve gone over how microservices and containers work together to save time and money in enterprise IT environments; how container platforms challenge IT leaders to rethink IT infrastructure composition and deliver resources to lines of business; and key elements to keep in mind when implementing a container platform. Now, are you ready to embark on your container journey?

Prepare to implement your container platform

Establishing new technology and processes in parallel is no easy feat. When I talk to IT department leaders, they are often under pressure to adopt container technology, optimize existing IT usability and provide the latest consumption-based services to their business lines.

When introducing any new technology to your IT environment, success begins with a clear plan and roadmap for implementation. Before you begin your implementation, your architectural model must be able to support dynamic scaling, high availability, public cloud integration, transparent workload placement, a central console for management and reporting, and automation of platform maintenance and operations to keep the different environments current and to propagate changes quickly. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get started:

Security, governance and process isolation: It is critical to rebuild your enterprise security and compliance strategy. As discussed in my second article, this requires new tools and processes and redefining interactions with business lines.

Monitoring and logging: In my experience, the volume for logging can be more than 10 times higher than expected. Cloud-native applications also make it more difficult to build a consistent view across all related microservices.

Data persistence and protection: With cloud-native applications, data is stored outside the container platform. That data must be accessible from all platform nodes in the same way. This requires a structured data model and possibly new storage technologies.

Multi-host networking: Classical segmentation doesn’t work for interconnected clusters. For API-driven, external connections, consider technologies like API gateways and cloud-transparent network integration.

Container lifecycle management: A cloud-native application might include 50 microservices, as well as use microservices from other applications. Without establishing strict lifecycle management, you run the risk of old versions and unused containers idling in your platform. Each uncontrolled container poses a potential risk.

Container scheduling and orchestration: Advanced orchestration maps between the cloud-native applications and unsolicited containers balance workloads and map out expected outcomes, cost coverage and charges.

Establish your container platform strategy

To provide the above capabilities, it’s critical to invest in:

  • Platform architecture for security and isolation
  • Automation of platform setup, configuration and change
  • A security model for the platform, container communication and container image protection
  • A CI/CD tool chain consistent across deployment platforms
  • A service delivery partner that provides SLAs for container platforms
  • Monitoring and consumption that enables cloud-native applications
  • Enterprise compliance for the platform and operations
  • Cross-platform monitoring and reporting in hybrid and multicloud deployments

These things require investments in both resources and time to define the technology, build the automation and certify for production. The entire process can take 12 to 24 months, depending on the size and requirements of your business. Having people with container experience on the implementation team makes a huge difference. Look for an experienced partner that offers an out-of-the-box service bundle, which can help you establish an enterprise ready production environment in less than six months and reap the background benefits of continuous developments, ongoing platform enhancements and container platform operation and management expertise.

Be sure to check out the other articles in this series: In the first article, we look at microservices and containers and how they work together to save time and money in enterprise IT environments. In the second article, we explore how container platforms challenge IT leaders to rethink how they compose IT infrastructure and deliver resources to lines of business. In the third article, we cover how cloud-native applications are driving complexity in building and operating an enterprise container platform that is secure and compliant.

I hope this series has been useful to you; please reach out to me if you have any questions or would like to set up some time to chat about implementing an enterprise container platform for your business.