IT Automation – The Foundation for a Successful Container Strategy

Editor’s Note: Torsten Volk of Enterprise Management Associates recently published Ten Priorities for Hybrid Cloud, Containers, and DevOps in 2017. This research report and decision guide is for any enterprise that is adopting DevOps, hybrid cloud, or containers. We’ve asked Torsten to give some additional insights into successful container adoption based on his research.

Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research shows that 68% of enterprises are evaluating containers today. The key reasons for this excitement are speed, cost savings and scalability (see Chart 1). Early adopters have learned that getting the most out of containers means enabling application-centric IT automation.

What is your primary reason for adopting containers?
Chart 1

Automation Unlocks the Value of Containers

While containers enable developers to create and test applications from their laptop, they require centralized and application-centric IT automation to operate applications in a policy-driven and infrastructure agnostic manner. It is crucial to understand that not only containers will benefit from IT automation, but automation also enhances the efficiency of operating workloads on bare metal and VMs.  

Containers created on your laptop will run on your container cluster as a proof of concept, but today’s often dramatic lack of application, infrastructure and policy automation causes challenges in terms of scalability, availability, cost control, compliance and performance (see Chart 2). These challenges translate into a general lack of agility, speed and operational efficiency. This means that without effective application-centric IT automation you are slowing down business innovation, despite the adoption of containers.

Is your organization affected by any of the following challenges?
Chart 2

Automation Is the Foundation for Successful Container Adoption

Policy-driven provisioning and management of application environments is key for turning an enterprise into a “digital attacker.” A “digital attacker” can be any traditional or modern corporation that can rapidly release new software capabilities without making its staff, stakeholders or customers wait for the next big release. This continuous delivery of new capabilities will require large number of new developers and IT staff and still lead to software quality issues unless application-centric IT automation is in place. This automation needs to be independent of any specific infrastructure technology and exclusively focused on application requirements. In the ideal case, your automation platform will facilitate the deployment and ongoing management of your application environment to virtual machines today, containers tomorrow and serverless functions in the midterm.  

The End Result of Centralized IT Automation

Once you’ve achieved a state of complete application- and policy-driven IT automation, your organization can respond to any changes in the marketplace. At the same time, you can innovate to anticipate and instantly test future trends, without operational disruption or significant cost. Just leverage the resources freed up through your comprehensive automation strategy to try out a few new capabilities and see how your customers like them. Containers will contribute to your success by  offering all the known advantages in terms of deployment efficiency and workload mobility, but without completing your automation homework first, your container strategy is unlikely to succeed.

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Torsten Volk

Managing Research Director for Hybrid Cloud, the Software Defined Data Center, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing at Enterprise Management Associates.