5 tips for future-proofing your applications

Insights into how to future-proof your applications and ensure your business is set up for success in both the short term and distant future.

Today’s enterprises are under pressure to keep pace with digital transformation initiatives to fend off the increasing number of businesses vying for market share. From big data and IoT to serverless, organizations are increasingly turning to application modernization to outpace and out innovate competitors. Still, most organizations are forced to spend far too much time “keeping the lights on” to support legacy applications and outdated infrastructure rather than being able to focus on strategic initiatives.

The silver lining is that CIO’s have a path to future success. And that path starts with containerizing their applications. These five tips will provide you with insights into how to future-proof your applications and ensure your business is set up for success in both the short term and distant future.

1. Standardize management of your app portfolio

IT teams are tasked with managing diverse application portfolios—from Windows and Linux, and monoliths and microservices to on-premise and cloud-native. Each application stack can result in a silo for operating procedures across the entire application lifecycle. Containerization can help organizations bundle applications and dependencies into isolated, yet highly portable application packages. However, containers alone are not enough to provide value at the scale of an enterprise and do not directly address the compliance, security and operational needs of most organizations. Container management platforms enable you to bring on new applications at a very low incremental cost and without the need for niche expertise. Container platforms can standardize processes and management for traditional applications as well as new microservices, blockchain, serverless or IoT and edge-based deployments.

2. Integrate security policies earlier in the app lifecycle

To protect applications from development to production, security should be integrated into the app delivery process from dev to ops. It boils down to being able to improve security with a uniform approach—rather than having separate tooling for dev and ops. So what does this mean for your applications and your workflow? First, you can ensure your security processes and capabilities are consistent across your app portfolio and the app lifecycle. As your applications are modernized, for instance, so are your security policies alongside them.

Security can and should work quietly in the background without forcing existing workflows to change. Properly vetting apps early in development and making sure they are ready for production will create a much better working environment between development and security teams—leading to a happier CSO.

Lastly, security solutions that deliver on portability protect you from vendor lock-in—don’t settle for security solutions that are tied solely to an OS, application framework or cloud provider. You can dodge this trap by adopting a policy-based solution that brings governance and oversight for not only your entire application portfolio, but also across the entire application lifecycle.

3. Don’t leave legacy apps behind

A majority of applications within enterprises are legacy—and companies pour most of their respective IT budgets into simply maintaining these applications. Legacy applications can benefit from the same principles that cloud-native applications do when it comes to modernization.

Containerization allows for you to unlock value from these traditional applications so you can make the most of existing investments in .NET, WebSphere and WebLogic middleware or other legacy frameworks. For instance, with the end-of-life for Windows Server 2008, .NET applications can be quickly re-platformed to Windows Server 2016 once they are containerized.

With the proper container platform in place, enterprises can show immediate ROI as the applications become more secure, cost-efficient, and portable to hybrid cloud environments. These cost-savings set organizations down the path to fund microservices development and further innovation. As an example, Jabil turned to containers and specifically the Docker container platform to modernize their legacy applications as part of their digital transformation efforts, and in doing so, is also seeing significant savings.

4. Consolidate pipelines to achieve agility 

It’s a simple fact: having 15 DevOps pipelines will not make you more agile or more efficient at deploying code. This is a major reason why organizations are turning to container platforms for increased agility. It may sound ambitious, but it’s entirely possible to have one pipeline. If you are able to get to this point, you can speed up your processes from dev to production for every application. One example is insurance company Liberty Mutual, which built a “multi-lane highway” with the Docker Enterprise container platform that enables both traditional apps and new microservices apps to modernize according to their needs, but using the same software pipeline. Not every application has to move at the same speed, but they can use the same pipeline.

5. Don’t limit your choices

With enterprise application portfolios consisting of Windows and multi-Linux, and infrastructure spanning on-premise to hybrid and multi-cloud, you want your organization to be equipped to handle the makeup of your IT environment today and into the future. To help paint a picture of the flexibility companies are looking for, IDC’s 2018 Container Infrastructure Survey found that container deployers use an average of more than three clouds and more than four OSes. It’s important to look for solutions that provide this flexibility for your applications by supporting multiple OSes (multi-Linux or Windows), infrastructure (bare metal, VM, cloud or on premises) and application type (legacy or greenfield).

Consider portability, which is at the heart of containerization. With a container platform, you can bring your workloads to the cloud providers that best suit your business at any snapshot in time—rather than banking on only one. Whether it’s using Google Cloud for Machine Learning, AWS for IoT or Microsoft Azure for Big Data services, once your applications are portable, they can move to the cloud that offers the best capabilities to compliment or advance your business needs. A container platform should give you the freedom to work with the tools and technologies that best suit you today and into the future.

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