A Practical Guide to Microservices and Containers

by James A. Scott

Introduction

The re-platforming of the enterprise IT infrastructure is no small undertaking, by any means. Perhaps that is why it happens only once every 25-30 years, and usually it is provoked by a shifting set of key business drivers. That is precisely the case today. The term digital transformation is in the hearts, minds and on the lips of top-level business executives and IT leaders alike. As we’ll see, it refers to entirely new, all-digital ways of doing business and making decisions. And the underlying traditional or legacy infrastructures that have dominated enterprise IT for nearly 30 years simply cannot handle the workloads or power the applications that will drive business decisively forward in the decades ahead. New infrastructure, new thinking and new approaches are in the offing, all driven by the mantra ‘transform or die.’ The digital on-ramps to transformation originate in emerging highly scalable, very reliable converged infrastructure.

Both microservices and containers are destined to play a major role in this enterprise replatforming, for different reasons. Containers for their part hold significant benefits both for developers and the development effort as well as for the organization itself. Understanding this range of benefits is instrumental to securing funding for containers going forward.

Included in the long list of benefits is the ability to optimize hardware the company already owns, lessening the need to purchase as many new servers. Attracting new IT talent means offering them the technology they want to use, and increasingly that means containers. And most IT staff familiar with Linux and virtual machines should be able to acclimate to containers very easily. Being open source, containers can help reduce acquisition costs and do away with hardware vendor lock-in. Finally, because containers require no particular kind of programming framework or server, developers can write in the language of their choosing, with the flexibility of running them on both Linux and Windows.

For their part, microservices take the decades-old Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) on a leap forward by breaking each SOA component into de facto single purpose applications, but which perform only one function or activity (hence the name microservices). Organizations seeking to make the most of microservice models will increasingly deploy them within or inside containers. This will enable microservices to scale quickly owing to a simpler deployment model. Seen this way, microservices will be a key component of a highly scalable and flexible infrastructure that is straightforward to use, deploy and to maintain.

This book is meant for a wide audience, but in particular targets IT architects; developers and development managers; platform architects; cloud specialists; and big data specialists. For them, the goal is to help create a sense of urgency they can present to their CXOs and others whose buy-in is needed to make essential infrastructure investments along the journey to digital transformation. However, some line of business managers as well as upper level IT managers will also benefit from many parts of this book.

The book is further intended both as a highly urgent call-to-action for IT, as well as an overview of the most promising and compelling tools, technologies and solutions destined to play a major role in this re-platforming of the enterprise. The book is designed to help you stay one clear step ahead of your peers and competitors as IT undertakes what is arguably its most mission-critical task in a generation. Nothing less than the survival and competitive capability of your organization is at stake.