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Perspectives

Powering the Enterprise with Containerized Cloud Platforms

2018-09-14


As organizations move forward with microservices, they need to be mindful of the cost, integration and complexity challenges of transitioning from monolithic to virtual IT infrastructure.

Modern enterprises see containerization as one of the most promising digital technologies that simplifies the packaging and deployment of traditional applications as well as core to the successful deployment of microservices architectures. Many of these enterprises are adopting container platforms on various public clouds as part of their cloud journey.

But in the initial portion of this journey, many IT organizations often pay more money than they need to because they continue to host their on-premises data centers alongside paying for a public cloud footprint. However, as cloud adoption increases exponentially, it is clear that in the next five years a consolidation of these services will take hold. This means that future-looking IT leaders must choose the right technology and methodologies to support a journey that enables them to get maximum value from cloud adoption (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

When moving from a traditional hypervisor-based technology environment to containerization, enterprises need to be mindful of the following:

Plan for containerization.

While adopting a new technology concept such as containerization, it is challenging to strategize toward a final future goal. Even though decision makers are exploring open source Kubernetes — the de facto platform for cloud containerization — just knowing how to spin up the clusters required is not enough to chart an all-encompassing forward-looking strategy.

The journey to containerization requires integration of the entire abstraction layer and the supporting IT ecosystem with existing legacy systems. Moreover, IT decision makers need to consider the critical role of legacy workloads. Enterprises need to design containerized platforms that maintain applications portability and interoperability, thus avoiding the single vendor lock-in for infrastructure, platform and software-as-a-service environment.

Tackle operational complexity.

Though containers help enterprises to accelerate cloud-native application development with greater scalability and agility, many hybrid enterprise containerized systems add operational complexities. To avoid this, enterprises must consider adding upfront capacity management processes to meet additional compute resource and workload demands. They should implement effective security and governance policies for additional compute, network and storage resources, scheduling and patching. Typically, enterprises require a single pane of glass for centralized management of these complex systems. 

Embrace open source innovation.

Most technology innovation is happening in the open source world, and often enterprises struggle to meet the rapid pace at which technology evolves. Several major technologies in this space have upgraded their core stacks during the past 12 months to keep pace, including Red Hat OpenShift and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Platform conformance ensures that every vendor’s version of the platform supports the required application programming interfaces (APIs) to guarantee interoperability from one installation to the next; it provides flexibility and vendor independence. Iterating and continuously building on real prototypes based on real problems effectively provides the best solutions.

Collaborate and trim excess fat.

IT leaders often try to seek new technology solutions and overlook long-standing business processes, worrying about the resistance they would face from the entire organization. To implement the changes enterprise-wide, IT leaders need one or two champions. They can be a particular application owner or portfolio owner. They would help to spread the word and oversee a larger team that would collaborate and adapt the platform to the organization’s needs. Container platforms bring together developers and operators and systems administrators to increase work throughput by leveraging Agile development methods to handle applications and platforms in a DevOps-centric manner

Find a good partner.

Systems integrators, who can bring in help as needed, are always a good option to engage with on this journey to containerization. One of the biggest challenges, which is yet unsolved, remains the resource crunch in the market and inability of IT teams to upskill their teams with new technologies. Partners can offer domain expertise, platform experience and operational excellence.

For example, one of our major retail clients faced potential loss of product delivery order due to sub-optimal mapping solutions in its traditional IT environment. The lack of a dynamic, scalable environment made it challenging for the company to handle massive order spikes during the peak shopping season. The lengthy development cycles stretched their development cycles and reduced their market releases of key business features.

Our elastic and scalable containerized solution, built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), enabled the client to optimize product forecasting and scheduling, and tracking the framework. We defined the architecture of a new scalable and agile containerized environment for application development, automating entire GCP and Kubernetes management activities with security. This enabled the client to define a new technology path in the digital world. 

The retailer successfully harnessed its existing customer networks and reinvented the path to purchase in line with their actual shopping behaviors. The solution implementation augmented the sales pipeline, accelerated time to market and increased return on investment (ROI). This customer is deploying features and updates up to 30 times a day instead of once every two weeks and also invests 80% of DevOps engineering time on more strategic tasks.

Looking Forward

As containerization powered by the open source Kubernetes platform makes the journey of reshaping data centers within the enterprises, several technologies such as service mesh, log analytics and, automated deployments will likely be added to the mix. It’s not just the adoption but also achieving optimal infrastructure density and increasing user adoption for the platform that will define the success of any enterprise embarking on the containerization journey. IT leaders struggle to obtain ROI for containerized platforms as it’s difficult to measure the importance of opportunity, which is exactly what containers and cloud-native transformations are providing businesses as they evolve themselves and avoid being disrupted.

To learn more, please visit the Cognizant Infrastructure Services section of our website, or contact us.

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Powering the Enterprise with Containerized Cloud Platforms