Transitioning from managing VMs to orchestrating containers

This is a guest blog post written by Ron Illsley, distinguished analyst at Ovum.

One of the biggest challenges faced by organizations as they look to adopt newer cloud native concepts, such as containers, micro-services, or serverless is marrying this new world with its existing portfolio and processes. The issue faced by many CIOs is that they do not have the financing available to start the application modernization program, and lack the resources to even begin to investigate. Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights survey 2017/18 showed that the second top priority in 2018/19 for CIOs was improve operational efficiency so they could release the finances and resources needed to begin IT transformation.

The rise of cloud native workloads will increase, Ovum’s container management platforms forecast predicts a CAGR of 21%, with a market valuation of $9 bn by 2022. The rise of these new platforms will require new skills, and in the early stages Ovum expects these platforms to be offered as managed cloud-based services. But over time the platforms will become more hybrid as organizations gain maturity in using the cloud native technologies. This rise of containers and cloud native applications has in part been as a response to the need for a new way to deliver services in a cloudy world. Managing and orchestrating containers remains a specialist skill-set, with only a handful of commercial products designed for this new modus operandi, currently Kubernettes is the tool of choice by organizations, but is still a complex and specialist function and more aimed at the application developer community than the IT operations team. For this reason, Ovum expects 2019 will be the year of Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) as its value to developers and operations teams becomes more obvious in terms of how it supports DevOps. Ovum’s model of how containers meets the demands of DevOps considers this from two aspects.

  • From a developer’s perspective, it is about the freedom to develop in any language on any operating system and any infrastructure, the container is the critical environment that developer’s use. The central store is a library of base images that are supported by the organization. The developers can use these images to construct their applications, then using a common set of tools the performance can be monitored and these services deployed.
  • Operations benefit from being able to define the base images and therefore standardize the environment to match their skills and constraints.

CaaS is still in its early stages of maturity, but with more ISVs switching to containers as the vehicle for software development and distribution the expansion of this lightweight technology looks certain to accelerate in 2019. The big questions about the use of CaaS revolves around the roles and responsibilities, CaaS enables the organization to develop the workflow to match its needs and organizational structure. However, as developers demand greater self-service ability to develop, test, and deploy these services the old tensions between Dev and Ops will re-surface. Ovum believes that while containers make deployment simple and could be ceded to development or business teams, the role of IT operations must not be over-looked as the infrastructure still needs to be considered in any software delivery lifecycle and the concept of SLAs or guarantees will be expected on these services, so CaaS still needs the correct processes and procedures to be followed.

The rise of these new CaaS solutions will create a lot of noise in the market, and understanding what are the core, minimum required, capabilities from those more esoteric capabilities will be a challenge for CIOs. Ovum has recently conducted a Market Radar on the container management market, and clearly identified the core current capabilities, and those capabilities that will be required to meet the future growth of the use of containers. Ovum considers that as the scale of container deployments increases organizations will discover that only those solutions designed for managing complexity will help ensure operational efficiency.

Download the full Ovum Market Radar
on Container Management Platforms


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