3 ways containers shine in a crisis

Linux containers provide the kind of flexible, agile, and secure development environment needed during times of change

3 ways containers shine in a crisis
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There are certain people who thrive in a crisis. They have the ability to go beyond just getting the job done, no matter what is going on around them (which is huge in and of itself), but they also find opportunity amid difficult situations and help those around them be the best they can be. You want these crisis champions in (and leading) your organization. 

The same is true with technology. There is some technology that works well enough when things are calm but tends to buckle under pressure. Then there are the crisis champions of the technology world—the products that keep doing what they are supposed to be doing no matter what but are flexible and resilient enough to meet the most pressing new requirements (and then some). Linux containers and the Kubernetes ecosystem are prime examples.

The word crisis has probably been overused in the past, but if the world were ever in a time of “intense difficulty, trouble, or danger,” it’s now. With COVID-19 changing the very fabric of our society, we need all the crisis champions we can get—people and products.

Now, I am not here to say that Linux containers can cure all of the world’s ills right now—literally or figuratively. But the technology has the potential to help organizations not only survive but thrive during these difficult times—and through whatever comes afterward. 

To understand how containers can help in a crisis, let’s start with a simple explanation of what they are. Put simply, a Linux container is a set of processes that is isolated from the rest of the system. The files needed to run these processes are provided from a distinct image, a model that makes containers portable and consistent across development, testing, and production. 

There are three major advantages that make Linux containers so good in a crisis.

1. Containers are crazily agile

Change is constant, but it has been coming at us at a whole new level in 2020. In the months since COVID-19 took hold, for example, organizations have had to restructure supply chains, where and how people work, and the types of products and services they provide. The more agile an organization is, the more effective it is at making these kinds of wholesale or rapid-fire changes. Containers by their very nature make an organization more agile—stripping away the barriers between development and deployment. Especially when combined with Kubernetes, containers create an environment that enables developers not only to code fast but also to move that code around and get it out the door almost as soon as an idea strikes. 

2. Containers enable effective collaboration

Containers were the fuel that helped fire the DevOps movement, but DevOps is no longer enough. To quickly meet an ever-changing—and often urgent—set of demands, developers must be able to effectively and efficiently collaborate not only with the operations team but also with security, business leaders, and others. Think of it as DevSecBiz[TEAM TO BE NAMED]Ops. In a container-based ecosystem—in which containerized applications can be deployed across different infrastructure, and in which containerized microservices can be reused in multiple projects—developers can quickly respond to the input of all stakeholders, share work based on that input, and iterate as needed to get the right code out the door at the right time.       

3. Containers foster security and high availability

At this point, even five-year-olds have experienced the frustration of not being able to get to an app or service needed to perform a certain task. And, as the pandemic wears on, reports of hackers taking advantage of resource-depleted organizations and vulnerable populations are growing. During times of uncertainty—whether due to a pandemic, severe weather, or whatever is on the horizon—security and high availability are especially critical.

Containers are not necessarily more secure than other development models, but they are reliable, secure, and scalable when safeguards are built into the container pipeline from the get-go. Further, any organization that has adopted containers has at least evaluated, if not deployed, Kubernetes. Kubernetes orchestration enables organizations to build application services that span multiple containers, schedule those containers across a cluster, scale those containers, and manage the health of those containers over time. Kubernetes’ load balancing capabilities also help to ensure that services are always available, especially as they scale.

Linux containers provide the kind of flexible, agile, and secure development environment needed during times of change—which, let’s face it, is all the time. Containers and Kubernetes cannot work miracles on their own. But combined with hybrid cloud technologies and best practices for maintaining, evolving, and enhancing the service delivery environment, containers can be counted on as crisis champions. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.