The container craze may be new, but organizations can use some traditional IT practices to manage Linux container deployments.
Those who have been in IT for a while know that there are certain things that will always hold true. And, while Linux containers are newly registering on many IT and business pros’ radars these days, there are still some “old” best practices that can be applied to the technology.
The Linux container itself is not new. The container concept first appeared way back in 2000 as FreeBSD jail, which enabled IT administrators to partition the FreeBSD operating system into multiple subsystems. Shortly thereafter, the idea of an “isolated” environment made its way into VServer. Virtualization and containerization are two separate technologies, but containers owe more than just a passing nod to virtualization. Further, technologies such as control groups, the systemd initialization system, and user namespaces -- among many others--have combined to move containers from concept to proof of concept.
Today, more and more companies are picking up on the modern Linux container model to help them succeed in today’s dynamic and often complex business environment. Indeed, there is a lot of “new” when it comes to containers, but in no way should companies think of them as “in with the new, out with the old.” Rather, and interestingly, companies can rely on some tried-and-true best practices to help ensure success with containers. In this slideshow, I discuss eight rules that apply as much to Linux containers now as they have to other critically important technologies in the past.
Get buy-in from all stakeholders
Projects will run more smoothly and will deliver better ROI when all stakeholders-- from the IT and business sides--are involved. Assess your needs and possible business impacts to help you determine the best use cases for containers and then choose a Linux container technology that benefits your developers, infrastructure team, and business.
Develop the business case before making technology choices
All too often, companies try to find the right applications for technology rather than the right technology for applications. Containers work well with, for example, CI/CD, distributed applications and microservices, and batch/ETL jobs.
Focus on underlying technology rather than technology trends
Container technology is receiving a lot of buzz for--among other things--the portability, efficiency and security capabilities it provides. With that said, containers won’t work for every organization or for every workload. Organizations shouldn’t jump on containers just because it seems like the cool thing to do; rather, they should focus on the underlying technology and capabilities to determine if the platform makes sense for them.
Follow industry standards and avoid vendor lock-in
The beauty of Linux containers comes largely from their portability and flexibility. Beware of solutions that offer “differentiated” features that fly in the face of industry standards.
What’s managed -- and measured -- matters
Robust management and measurement tools will enable companies to optimize their use of new technology and accurately measure return. Platforms like Kubernetes, for example, enable companies to effectively orchestrate and govern their expanding container universe.
Build in security from the ground up
This should go without saying, but planning for implementation of new technology must start with how it can be secured. This is especially true for containers as use of the technology in the organization scales. Nothing is secure by default. Look to implement multiple layers of security controls throughout your applications, infrastructure, and processes to minimize security risks.
Be open to open source
Linux containers are based on open source technology, which means you get the latest and greatest advancements as soon as they’re available. It also means your organization can contribute to projects, gaining insight and developing relationships and expertise by participating in the community. Community- driven container technologies such as Runc, CRI-O, Kubernetes and Istio help teams simplify, speed up, and orchestrate application development and deployment.
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Attract and retain good employees
As business-process and customer-facing applications are driven by digital transformation, it’s more important than ever to attract and retain high functioning developers, architects, and operations staff. Today, savvy developers want to work at organizations that value innovation and provide the tools, platforms, and development models necessary to drive it. If you can’t say, during an interview, that your company is actively using technologies like containers and Kubernetes, you may lose a great prospect, not to mention current staff.