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Great, You’ve Done Your PoC for Containers … Now What?



Businesses are moving at different speeds on the road to containers. There’s a growing appreciation of the value of container technology (see my previous post The Irresistible Allure of Containers: 4 Big Benefits) and an ever-increasing number of implementations already in progress. Many organizations are now at the point where they’ve completed their initial proof of concept (PoC). But they’re wondering how to get from there to production, and how to sustain the momentum of their containerization effort as it runs into the complexities of operations.

DockerconEU.PNGI attended DockerCon EU in Copenhagen recently, where I was spreading the word about HPE Pointnext and how we can help businesses get the most out of Docker software by making it easier to deploy, utilize, and scale. Production operations was probably the number-one concern among the folks I talked with at the HPE Pointnext booth. The simple question “How do I get my apps out into production?” was one that I heard again and again. Or it might be something like “Hey, I'm an ops guy and I don't really want to even bother devs with this, but I do want to get started with containers.” I heard concerns about the people-and-process aspects of operationalizing containers, and worries that it might be too big of a project, too complex to get everybody on board with it right away.

Bridging the gap from PoC to Ops

It’s understandable that IT leaders should worry about stalling out as they prepare to cross the gap between PoC and production. After all, this where the containerization rubber hits the operations road.

I find it useful to think of operationalization as consisting of two tracks: the application track, and the software supply chain track. The application track includes the initial assessment of the multiple services that compose your apps. It also includes containerizing, test and acceptance, going live, optimization – all of the steps that go into composing the application stack.

The second track, software supply chain deployment, covers important elements beyond the applications themselves. There are decisions to be made about the infrastructure that will support your clusters – cloud, data center or a mix of both? You’ll want to consider how you’ll provide high availability and disaster recovery; how do you escalate the help desk if something goes wrong in your new containerized environment? What about security measures to protect the app through the dev process as well as in the runtime environment? Training will likely be part of your plan, too – your people may need help to bring their skills up to speed. Then there’s service operating models, continuous integration/continuous deployment, integration with your existing systems … it’s a long list, and it can seem daunting.

The good news is that Docker’s Modernize Traditional Applications (MTA) program, in which HPE is a partner, can build a bridge from PoC to ops. The program (announced in April) helps you not only containerize your applications on a modern, cloud-native platform, but also deploy them onto the right infrastructure. It also provides best practices to manage your apps across the lifecycle.

Building a container factory

 HPE20170126011_800_0_72_srgb.jpgThe MTA Service is designed to containerize and compose the app into the client environment. It can be extended with additional services to include a factory-like approach to pushing containerized apps into production and scaling out. Once your initial app assessment is done, the program builds its “MTA factory” in three streams: governance, platforms, and the development pipeline. With those foundational elements in place, you don’t have to re-work them after your first app goes live. The structure is flexible and dynamic, so you can repurpose it for new applications, and you can optimize it as you go along.

If you need help building your MTA factory, developing security and operating your software supply chain, HPE Pointnext stands ready to support you. We can provide guidance for every step of your containers journey, from identifying apps that are best suited to containerization, to developing a PoC, to transforming your app supply chain, to production and ongoing management. We can help you create a range of dev, test and production environments with HPE Synergy, our integrated composable infrastructure that bridges traditional and new applications. And we can provide best practices gleaned from our long experience of working with containers to help you identify the five or ten things you should focus on right now to get your apps into production and start creating impressive value.

Learn more about HPE Pointnext here, and HPE’s alliance with Docker here.

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HPE Hybrid IT Global Container Center of Excellence