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How microservices and containers change application delivery


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In their enthusiasm for adopting cloud computing, many organisations have simply moved their existing workloads to the cloud, without modification. While this approach certainly delivers benefits in terms of cost savings and elastic scalability, it misses the full scope of opportunity. By adopting microservices and containers, development teams can foster a ‘cloud-first’ mentality, evolving and modernising their workflows for higher efficiency and quality.

  • Microservices are a code-delivery approach based on breaking monolithic applications down into small, modular pieces that lend themselves readily to reuse, increasing coding efficiency. Each microservice can be updated independently, with isolated code changes that help build agility by facilitating DevOps and continuous delivery.
  • Containers are a lightweight way to package up applications with all their dependencies, so that they can execute anywhere, moving freely among private, hybrid and public clouds. This decoupling between software and hardware enables workloads to take full advantage of elastic capacity, using all available resources.

"A container is just a collection of fundamental Linux concepts that have been around for a number of years, namely namespaces and cgroups. What that does is it allows us to isolate processes, along with networking and file systems," says Chris Greenwood, IBM’s container lead for its Cloud Advisory Services team, when speaking on the Cloud Innovators podcast series.

"Generally, the advantages are easiest to quantify for organisations that are already moving in the direction of DevOps development production. Now it’s very easy to get caught up in the technology itself, but what we really need to look at is the business benefit. The reason companies adopt DevOps is the faster release of new application features to production, better quality code, quicker innovation, and ultimately containers enable that by making the adoption of a microservices architecture much easier than would be otherwise."

Find out how CIOs are leveraging containers in the fifth episode of the CIO-IBM Cloud Innovators podcast series. Click here to listen in now!

Transformational success

As businesses chart their courses for innovation, many find that delivering more effective services and greater customer value demands cloud-first development. Modernised software approaches enable them to accelerate the pace of change, while increasing efficiency and improving application quality.

For example, American Airlines transformed its multi-channel customer experienceby moving key applications to a cloud-native microservices architecture. The company now innovates faster to meet changing customer needs, while saving on costs and improving reliability.

The Weather Channel is another success story, arising from the need to handle dramatic swings in demand on its web properties as extreme weather events come and go. Using a containers-based architecture, the company has realised cost savings while cutting time to market for new services.

Unlocking cloud-first workflows

Deploying microservices inside containers is becoming the development model of choice for many organisations. Red Hat OpenShift, which combines the docker container format, Kubernetes container management and enterprise-grade support, is a popular open-source software platform for managing those components and orchestrating resources effectively.

To accelerate this path to digital transformation, the entire IBM software portfolio is now cloud-native and optimised to run on OpenShift. This combination enables businesses to extend a cloud-first approach across their delivery of applications, both internally and externally. Using IBM software and OpenShift, the organisation can effectively create even mission-critical applications with a write once, run-in-any-cloud approach, across private clouds and any public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Alibaba and IBM Cloud.

Extending the opportunity further, IBM Services accelerates adoption of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud architectures with a range of services for migrating, building and managing applications on OpenShift. These services build on decades of open source leadership by both IBM and Red Hat, helping create the foundations for innovation that

Next steps to a cloud-first future

Modernisation of the development paradigm to a cloud-first approach is a competitive imperative. Microservices accelerate the pace of change, so that applications can keep up with the evolving needs of the business. Containers let software move freely across environments, in a multi-cloud universe. These cloud-first principles help development organisations benefit from modern approaches such as DevOps and continuous delivery, making them into innovation hubs within the business.

To guide you on your journey to microservices and containers, watch the webinar, Lead the change of your IT: Unlock microservices - containers for Enterprise business.

Alternatively, if you're interested in how IBM can help you, click here to schedule a consultation.

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