We’ve all heard that containers and cloud technologies help us avoid lock-ins. While most of that is true, you could be unintentionally locking yourself to a particular technology or framework, if you are not careful. Let’s talk about some important aspects to consider, when you are evaluating a cloud or a container platform.
1. Compile a list the features you want a platform to have, based on your requirements
Your needs to consume a hybrid cloud architecture may be different from other organizations. The vision of having more flexibility and agility may be the same, but your workloads are different. It is important to know the in-depth architecture of the applications and workloads you want to live in the cloud or container environment.
You may have thousands of commercial-off-the-shelf applications, and hundreds of custom built ones. Some application vendors may not support containerizing their applications. There could be regulatory or other limitations that prevent certain legacy applications from being supported on containers. Depending upon how critical and integral such applications are to your business, you may want to consider newer offerings that make the full use of cloud and containerization benefits like microservices architecture.
3. Licensing and Exit costs
Platform cost is always a factor, no matter the size of the organization. One of the native benefits that containerization provides, is the ability to control costs – assuming your applications are architected accordingly. For example, a cloud-native application can be scaled in to public cloud for just the webtier when necessary (assuming microservices architecture) rather than spinning up large capacity VMs on demand in the cloud for monolithic applications. Another important consideration is around how the platforms are priced. A platform that prices based on worker nodes may be more feasible for an organization that plans on developing hundreds or thousands of microservices, and making them run efficiently on worker nodes.
A platform priced based on the number of applications containerized may be more feasible for monolithic applications. You will need to take in to account how your organization plans to scale the containerizing of applications, and what the application architectures will be like. Although you will be making a decision based on long term usage of the platform, it is always a good idea to see what the exit costs will be once you decide to move away from the chosen platform. As an exercise, see if you can figure out what changes would need to be made to the application architecture, the deployment architecture, resource skill sets, and more, if you were to move away from the chosen platform. That can then serve as a yardstick for how locked-in you might be, upon choosing a particular solution. There will always be some level of customization effort an lock-in, no matter which solution you choose – but the idea would be to minimize the monetary and non-monetary exit costs.
4. Detailed architecture knowledge about your applications
Nobody wants to make major technology adoption decisions based on hearsay. It is critical to know the detailed application architectures, as that will guide you towards choosing the right solution. If the bulk of your application workloads are legacy monolithic applications, the primary tangible benefit obtained by containerizing them will be horizontal scaling. This is assuming the application vendors will support the containerized versions, the applications will allow multiple instances running within the same sub-net, the application can be used with a load balancer, and so on.
To leverage the self-healing and other native capabilities offered by containers, the cloud-native applications developed in a microservices architecture would be an ideal workload. But in the real-world, there is always going to be a mix of legacy and newer workloads. For highly regulated industries like healthcare, insurance, banking, and others – legacy applications may form the biggest chunk of their workloads. If you have the time, it would be ideal to do a cost-benefit analysis for legacy workloads to compare the benefits offered by horizontal scalability and the like, before choosing to move forward with containerization.
5. Implementing vendor agnostic tools, and processes, refactoring if necessary
Choosing a platform is just one piece of this complex puzzle involving the rollout of new technologies. There are critical tasks pre- and post- containerization, that also need to be accounted for. For example, how easy or difficult will it be to refactor the existing application for a chosen platform? How easy or difficult will it be to monitor the performance of the chosen platform? How easy or difficult will it be to integrate the chosen platform with other toolsets? Will there be changes needed to your existing processes or toolsets, so they can work effectively with the chosen platform? The end goal for most organizations is to have an easy transition path into Cloud and Container platforms – and to use these platforms as effective tools for their IT teams and business in general. This vision can be best achieved by having a vendor agnostic strategy, and avoiding vendor lock-ins wherever possible.
Associates at Keyva have helped multiple organizations assess their application readiness and move them in to containerized and cloud environments. Keyva also helps with the pre- and post- containerization steps. These include things like refactoring existing applications, adding a wrapper over current applications so they can be consumed easily by DevOps processes, and more.
If you’d like to have us review your environment and provide suggestions on what might work for you, please contact us at email@example.com
Anuj joined Keyva from Tech Data where he was the Director of Automation Solutions. In this role, he specializes in developing and delivering vendor-agnostic solutions that avoid the “rip-and-replace” of existing IT investments. Tuli has worked on Cloud Automation, DevOps, Cloud Readiness Assessments and Migrations projects for healthcare, banking, ISP, telecommunications, government and other sectors.
During his previous years at Avnet, Seamless Technologies, and other organizations, he held multiple roles in the Cloud and Automation areas. Most recently, he led the development and management of Cloud Automation IP (intellectual property) and related professional services. He holds certifications for AWS, VMware, HPE, BMC and ITIL, and offers a hands-on perspective on these technologies.
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