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Enterprise Cloud Turns to Containers, Microservices

Sandra O'Boyle
9/15/2016
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IT departments in large companies are experiencing growing pains when it comes to the adoption of cloud services: It's not so much a discussion about whether or not to use public or private cloud, but how best to manage and support multiple cloud applications and services.

Cloud is also changing IT's role with pressure to be a business driver delivering flexible IT and scalable applications more quickly with performance and reliability, while taking greater care of security, data privacy and regulation -- meaning less time can be spent managing the infrastructure itself.

Using multiple clouds is becoming the norm in large companies, which means having to manage a mix of private cloud infrastructure in their own or third-party data centers, public cloud computing services, as well as multiple service providers for software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

The issue is that enterprises are finding that managing multiple clouds is not that easy. Open cloud management platforms are needed to provide "an IT cloud control dashboard" and ensure that applications work across multiple clouds and network infrastructure. Any cloud management or platform has to support multiple cloud providers. And as more critical applications (e.g., SAP and Oracle databases) are moving to the cloud, management platforms to manage latency and reliability are becoming more important.

The next phase of moving applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics and storage to the cloud, means looking at platforms that are suited to a cloud-native and microservices approach, and the use of container technology. Enterprises are also embracing more open source software such as Xen and KVM and OpenStack and will need a way to manage and orchestrate applications running on containers, virtual machines and bare metal.

Application containers such as Docker are gaining in popularity as they make it easy to move applications between cloud environments and enable breaking up applications into microservices -- essentially distributed applications made up of many smaller independently managed clearly scoped services with single process responsibility that can be re-used in other applications. Because of these characteristics of flexibility and agility, containers are increasingly being looked at to build and test distributed applications. And it's not just cloud native applications; enterprises are redesigning legacy internal line-of-business applications into microservices and containerized workloads that will require a more lightweight, distributed and agile cloud architecture.

As new technologies such as application containers and microservices architecture, and open source software come into the enterprise, IT will need new management tools and new skills. Vendors will have a key role to play in supporting enterprises with innovative open source software, and cloud management tools. The networking and IT teams will also need to work together to ensure applications and container workloads work across virtual machines containers and bare metals in the data center and across the wide area network and increasingly new software defined networks. (See SD-WAN to Catch Up With Pace of Cloud IT.)

This blog is sponsored by Huawei. For more information, please visit Huawei Connect 2016.

— Sandra O'Boyle, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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