Digital transformation is the use of technology to improve the experience of employees, customers, and other stakeholders within an organization. According to IDC, 20% of global GDP can be attributed to digital transformation. Applications drive businesses today and are the bedrock of digital transformation. They're used to engage with customers, integrate with suppliers and vendors, manage an increasingly global workforce, and offer a seamless digital experience within an organization across a variety of devices. Utilizing the right applications aids businesses in staying ahead of the competition.
Until recently, however, most organizations built monolithic applications. These behemoths, with many dependencies, libraries, binaries, and configuration files, become challenging to maintain. That's why companies need to look to a container architecture to create an ecosystem of smaller, more robust apps that can be deployed, scaled, and managed automatically.
The benefits of transforming a business with innovative technologies are unmatched, and in this article, we're going to explore how businesses can get a jumpstart in organizing their digital transformation with the containerization of applications.
Virtual Machines vs. Containers: Container Architecture Comes Out on Top
With the traditional monolithic approach, IT operations deploy applications on virtual machines (VMs). By using a hypervisor, servers can run multiple VMs at once, each with a separate operating system (OS) and dedicated server resources. While this helped consolidate hardware resources in the past, running applications in a separate VM requires substantial overhead, as some VMs require reserving gigabytes of storage and system resources to handle varying loads.
Containers can run self-contained apps in isolation while sharing the resources of the host system. Each container is able to share the host systems resources dynamically while having limits to ensure that no single container can monopolize the system and starve other containers of resources. Containerization allows your servers to run applications even more efficiently than the VMs of the past.
Along with better resource utilization, containers are typically only megabytes in size and much smaller than a full-blown operating system on top of a VM. The substantially reduced size of containers means they can scale easier because they deploy quicker, take up less disk space, and in turn use fewer resources. Relying on a single OS for multiple applications also reduces the need for IT operations to manage bug fixes, patches, and other routine maintenance.
Kubernetes For Your Container Environment
With thousands of containers deployed at once, it becomes necessary to use an orchestration platform to deploy, scale, and manage them. Think of Kubernetes as the crane in a cargo yard full of shipping containers. It creates new containers by removing them from a ship and placing them in the yard based on the needs of the container. Later on, it can remove the containers or make room for others. Based on the space, size, and use of your containers, Kubernetes orchestrates where, when, and how the individual containers exist and how other services communicate with them. This platform provides the environment for all of your containers to exist.
Kubernetes further helps with container proliferation by organizing one or more containers into pods. The contents of a pod are always co-located and co-scheduled, meaning tightly coupled containers will stick together. The further abstraction of pods assists in avoiding dependency issues across VMs and environments.
From there, Kubernetes automatically scales your containerized applications to take advantage of computing resources. Automatic scaling is particularly useful when using pay as you go cloud services where wasted resources can be costly. Kubernetes lets you monitor the health of your containers and ensure you don't have any orphaned services running.
Containers to Fuel Your Digital Transformation
Containers help in building applications more efficiently at a fraction of the cost. Further efficiency in development allows organizations to focus more on DevOps and on creating apps that bring real business results. Using containers can reduce or eliminate time spent on manual tasks like testing, configuration, and deployment. It's also possible to get more out of existing IT infrastructure by eliminating the overhead of multiple VMs. Reducing manual work is the key to digital transformation.
While there are other platforms like Docker Swarm and Marathon, we recommend Kubernetes because it's the most popular and well-established orchestration technology. If you're looking into containerization and need help with the migration, feel free to contact us at Achieve Internet.