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3 powerful ways to get the most out of containers

Toby_Weiss

Of all the technology engines driving digital transformation in today’s enterprises, it’s hard to think of one – outside of cloud itself – that’s more powerful than containers. Businesses have enthusiastically embraced these lightweight runtime environments in the past few years to turbocharge development of cloud-native, customer-facing applications. Most companies are already running containerized applications in production environments, and they’re starting to add use cases at the edge. At the same time, there’s still acres of room to leverage containers for modernizing legacy applications and moving those to cloud.

Putting containers to work for your business: 3 guiding principles

If your company is leveraging container technologies, or planning to do so, there’s some exciting news from HPE this week. We announced the HPE Container Platform, the industry’s first enterprise-grade Kubernetes-based container platform designed for both cloud-native applications and monolithic applications with persistent storage. As Kumar Sreekanti, our Senior Vice President and CTO of Hybrid IT, explains: “Our container-first approach will provide enterprises with a faster and lower-cost path to application modernization.” (Learn more about the HPE Container Platform)

It’s important to keep that wider context in mind, because the companies that achieve the most success with application containers don’t just see them as isolated technology projects, but as far-reaching initiatives to modernize and transform their business. Containers are the key to accelerating digital innovation and unlocking the ability to do some truly amazing things. Like helping farmers to make data-driven decisions and achieve larger yields with fewer resources, potentially feeding billions more people as the world’s population continues to expand. Or enabling a global workforce management company to reinvent itself by creating its own disruptive internal start-up. Or helping a railroad inspection provider to ensure safer railroad infrastructure globally.

The big-picture view should also encompass your people and processes as well as the technology. Moving from a legacy development and operations culture to a container-first culture means fundamentally changing the way you work, and for some organizations, it can be a wrench. But the results are well worth the effort.

Here are three big-picture principles to keep in mind on your journey to container-powered IT:

Understand how container technologies impact your right mix of cloud.

A fundamental consideration in designing a modern hybrid infrastructure – and one that many organizations struggle with – is choosing the optimal combination of public cloud and private cloud. The right mix of IT assets is a dynamic quantity, constantly shifting as the costs of cloud services change and your business needs evolve. Container projects will play into this equation; for example, they may shift the mix towards off-prem infrastructure as applications become more lightweight and cloud-portable.

It’s true that at many companies, much of the ‘low hanging fruit” for cloud migration has already been picked. So the question becomes: what do you do with everything else? Don’t assume that you’re close to exhausting the value of containers and cloud in your mix. With the right container strategy and solutions like the HPE Container Platform, you may find plenty of scope to modernize even cumbersome monolithic applications that have resisted the move to containerization until now.

Pay close attention to new skills requirements and cultural changes.

Don’t underestimate the organizational impacts of your container strategy. In addition to the expertise needed to implement any container solution, containerized environments call for specialized skills that are currently in high demand, and the right resources can be difficult to come by. Organizations often struggle to source the expertise to execute projects successfully. Indeed, the reason many cloud transformations fail is not because companies don’t choose the right technology; it's because they don’t get the right people on board.

Moving to containers can add massive impetus to DevOps, with its accelerated cycles and continuous integration and deployment. For development teams that are accustomed to long cycles and extensive testing and reviews, moving to one-week or two-week agile sprints can be challenging. In addition, security is an increasingly important concern at the intersection of DevOps and containerization. Many companies are in the early stages of building DevSecOps capabilities (Simon Leech's blog 5 cultural changes to make container security and DevSecOps real). It’s worth putting some serious thought into the security skills you’ll need to nurture in your teams as you build out your container strategy.

Consider modernizing your applications to get the most out of them in a containerized environment.

Containerizing your legacy monolithic applications doesn’t exhaust the possible gains in efficiency and agility. You can take it to the next level with application refactoring and re-hosting to drive the highest performance and results from your containerized environment.

Your expert partner for the containerization wave

HPE Pointnext Services has the expertise to help you chart the right path to a container strategy that meets your business objectives. We help you identify and solve the technical, organizational and training challenges to container adoption, enabling you to bring the benefits of containers to more of your enterprise applications.

We start by understanding your business goals and your digital transformation objectives. What are your app development plans? What’s your approach to hybrid IT? We can provide a deployment framework that helps you ensure, for example, that security is set up the right way, and that the right people and skills are in place to implement the strategy. We can walk you through the deployment, scaling the container platform to your organization and driving adoption. And we can help you modernize your containerized applications to drive the maximum returns on your containerization investment.

HPE has more than 10 years’ experience in containers. And, as a pioneer and leader in hybrid IT, we’ve helped more than 1,000 companies with their hybrid cloud transformations. We can point to a long history of developing innovative hybrid cloud solutions such as HPE GreenLake, our groundbreaking consumption-based IT solution.

We’re proud of our ability to deliver unbiased, independent expertise for container and hybrid cloud implementations. And we’re proud of the data-driven methodologies behind services like HPE Right Mix Advisor, which combines industry-leading expertise and automated discovery tools to help you identify the best combination of on-prem, off-prem and edge infrastructure for your business.

But nothing beats hearing it from IT leaders who have chosen HPE as their partner for innovation. So I’ll close with a quote from two leaders at Kronos, the global workforce management company that I mentioned earlier. Bill Bartow is VP of global product management at Kronos, and Susan Rossnick is VP of engineering. In an Enterprise.nxt article titled How one company sparked reinvention by trying to put itself out of business, they write:

“At every layer of the stack, we wanted to redesign with the latest technology that would enable us to achieve positive business outcomes for the customer. To help us move through our cloud implementation, we engaged with HPE Pointnext Services, at several stages. While our team had a clear vision of where we wanted our project to go, we needed an expert to validate some of our assumptions.

Early on, when we were exploring hosting options, the HPE team helped us define plans for the construction and ongoing optimization phases. The company served as a sounding board on customer experience issues, how to demonstrate continuous improvement, and how to increase gross margins. It created baselines early in our cloud journey—particularly in DevOps—and helped develop road maps for improvement.”

Enabling HPE customers to ‘achieve positive business outcomes’ for their customers … that’s what HPE Pointnext Services is all about.

Visit our Cloud Consulting Services page to learn how HPE can help you accelerate your journey to the cloud.

Learn more about how the HPE Container Platform and how we can help you transition to a container-based hybrid cloud infrastructure here: https://www.hpe.com/info/container-platform


Toby Weiss
VP WW Hybrid IT Practice Area
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author

Toby_Weiss

Toby Weiss is the Vice President of the Worldwide Hybrid IT Advisory and Professional Services Practice at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He oversees the global team that innovates and develops new hybrid solutions that help customers drive digital transformation.

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