Over the years, as information technology has matured and touched every part of an organisation or business, it’s become clear that you can’t stand still. Sure, your internal and external-facing applications might “just work”. But, look around at what your business is missing out on and the cost of not keeping up becomes clear.

The new normal

Today’s business environment is very different to just a few years ago. Organisations have to respond quickly to customer needs which are always subject to change. Can’t respond fast enough? Your competitors will, and your customers will go to them. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has heaped pressure on organisations as well. Digital transformation may sound like a cliché but in the current climate, it’s do or die for many businesses.

In that scenario, being held hostage by monolithic applications that are difficult to maintain, update, and upgrade is not an option. They’re not suited to today’s constantly improving service and feature delivery cycle and the agile technologies that go with it. 

Modernising apps is necessary to keep ahead of the competition, but let’s be honest, it can feel like a step into the unknown. Such a move requires breaking up the status quo and a cultural shift that involves moving to new development methods and even a change of infrastructure.

How do you do modernise apps with minimal disruption and maximum benefits?

Keeping it simple lets you get there fast.

First, there’s one toolset your app developers will want when it’s time to modernise and that’s containers. There might be a few edge cases where containers are not suitable for an enterprise, but you'd be hard-pressed to think of any.

With its roots in old-school operating system virtualisation, like chroot (an operation that alters the root directory of the current running process) and FreeBSD jails (a way for to divide FreeBSD-based computer systems into smaller systems), containers are a stable and mature open source technology experiencing an accelerated uptake in the enterprise market.

Containers offer compelling advantages for businesses looking to accelerate application development and become cloud-native in the process. 

Instead of setting up full operating system environments through virtual machines (VM) apps, containers keep things lightweight. Developers can package up what an app needs to run, configure what system resources are needed, and limit what data can be accessed and the program’s view of the world. In a nutshell, that’s containerised apps for you. Not just quick to build, deploy, and maintain, but secure and with lower and more efficient resource utilisation as well.

Containerised apps done right are portable as well, and it doesn't need to be emphasised how important that feature is. Do you want scalability through the cloud? Containers are the answer to that.

Yes, really: containers keep it simple

Containers are compelling for any digitally-transformed business, but like with any new and evolving technology, there could be facepalm and head-desk issues ahead which you will want to avoid.

First, consider one of the main benefits of containers: a minimal run-time environment setup is needed; just get in there and get that app out in weeks, rather than months or years. Features, fixes, and changes can be added quickly as well — all crucial requirements in a competitive business environment.

There are alternatives, of course. You could go the old school route which requires you to build and then orchestrate and monitor apps in your own environment. For that to work well, you would ideally need staff to manage and deal with all the complexities so the developers don’t have to. And, of course, any updates, rewrites, and patches would all be down to your team and the developers you hire. 

Here’s an example of doing it yourself in the public cloud for provisioning Kubernetes (K8s): firstly, you have to figure out how to design the K8s manager to handle cluster provisioning and then how to manage the resources it requires. This includes right-sizing compute, the amount of storage, dealing with networking configurations (which can be inflexible), and identity management. Then you’ll need to wrap cloud formations programmatically. Lastly, you'll need to get a GitOps model going with custom app add-ons deployed.

That’s just the first four steps out of several more to follow as you head down the public cloud and DIY K8s rabbit hole. 

Users may need additional tooling to support their adoption of the platform, and developers will need the ability to sift through log files to troubleshoot issues. All that has to be set up right, along with performance monitoring. 

At Datacom, we’ve seen how this can become a morass instead of the intended productivity booster. There’s something to be said about learning from experience, but if you can take advantage of someone having been there and done that, and use that to get up and running in weeks, why would you not?

Using Kubernetes via public cloud providers is certainly possible but can easily end up with provider lock-in, which kills one of the key advantages of containers: app portability through adopting cloud-native solutions.

The OpenShift approach

Datacom offers a managed solution that takes away the pain of dealing with Kubernetes based on enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat’s OpenShift.

Red Hat logo

With OpenShift, you get a solution that is Kubernetes-compatible and lets developers get on with what they do best: creating apps and deploying them fast.

OpenShift can be thought of as an abstraction layer that can sit above multiple public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructures. 

With OpenShift from Datacom, all the tools needed for modern dev teams are there from the start.

For example, you might want to use an open user interface like Kibana for log aggregation across multiple applications, and open source monitoring systems like Prometheus and Grafana for intuitive and easily customisable dashboards. That’s there, with OpenShift from Datacom, covering Day-0 to Day-2 operations.

Developers don’t have to think about that, however, as IT ops manage and scale the compute infrastructure seamlessly, reliably, and with ease.

Datacom provides a service through OpenShift that would take a team of roughly 50 to achieve were you to go down the DIY route with the public cloud. Learning from the experience of many New Zealand organisations who have gone down the DIY Kubernetes route, and subsequently spent months, if not years, trying to solve the challenges they ran into, is key because if you don’t have to, why would you? If Datacom can solve those pain points for you with the managed OpenShift offering, that’s real value with a huge speed boost for any project.

There’s more to how Datacom’s OpenShift containers can provide the app development and deployment speed-up your organisation needs. We’ll talk about the cultural change it brings, and the value of being cloud-native as well, in the next blog in this series.

Develop and deploy your applications faster

Your organisation's capacity to respond to changing dynamics and challenges is vital in today's high-paced environment. Let Datacom support your organisation with OpenShift cloud containers so you can develop and deploy applications in a fraction of the time you need with obsolete processes. Contact Datacom today to enable your digital transformation.

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