Enterprise, Virtualization

Software Containers: Short- and Long-Term Benefits Explained

Views on the role of containers in cloud journeys can be stark. Some see them as a sticking plaster, some see them as a rock-solid future proof foundation. My own view? It’s time to ditch those simplistic stereotypes, because containers can be both—short-term salvation and longer-term blueprint.

Author: Anne Greenwald, cloud director, Avanade Europe
Author: Anne Greenwald, cloud director, Avanade Europe

And to prove it, here are four ways containers can bring clarity to your cloud journey, and in doing so deliver both immediate and ongoing benefits.

1. Immediate Benefit: Find the right strategy from day one

Containers give you the power to plan for (and approach) application modernization in the way that’s most appropriate for your organization. So, you can craft the right strategy safe in the knowledge that however you progress, containers have your back.

For example, if you’re an organization with 1,000 applications, you can containerize them all immediately, and then develop a strategy to govern how you’ll modernize them. Some might need to be addressed urgently, some could wait, while others may never need to be modernized. Whatever approach you choose, containers give you choice.

Containers also help you to more easily adopt an application-first strategy. Many cloud journeys begin with a focus on infrastructure over applications. But it’s apps that return business value, and therefore apps that warrant your attention.

The flexibility of containers means that, no matter what your application estate looks like, you’ll be able to focus on your overall objective (and adopt the app-centric strategy to get you there) without being constrained by infrastructure limitations.

2. Immediate Benefit: Instant cost-saving impact for legacy apps

Containers are particularly adept at solving the riddle of traditional applications, and delivering cost savings in the process. They allow you to move applications out of their existing environment without having to make them cloud native. That means you gain the flexibility to consider and prioritize the modernization of certain apps in the future, while enjoying the immediate savings that go with a lessened reliance on your data centre.

Let’s look at another example. Say you have a range of legacy applications, some of which could be modernized, while others probably won’t ever be suited to modernization. You can use containers to reduce your hardware dependency, drop VMs or free up licenses immediately—saving costs in 30 days or less. Then, you can run legacy applications cheaper and more efficiently using containers, without ever needing to modernize them. A single, simple cost-saving solution for a range of traditional application challenges.

In fact, containers can even create an efficiency snowball effect for your cloud journey. The cost savings you generate can be reinvested to speed up your transformation. And this can have a big, immediate impact on your move to the cloud.

3. Ongoing benefit: Move to the cloud at the right pace

Whatever the composition of your application estate, chances are you’re not immediately ready to go 100% cloud native. You’ll have some applications that won’t quite be ready (and those that will never be ready) for modernization, and are better suited to migration.

Containers give you the flexibility to approach your cloud transformation at a pace that’s most appropriate for you and your organization. They allow legacy apps to take maximum advantage of cloud services, benefiting from scale, cost efficiency and an increasing number of other capabilities, without the need to refactor or rewrite them.

I’ve already discussed one of the key short-term benefits of containerization above—allowing you to migrate immediately and then consider your IT estate. This approach also delivers long-term benefits though. If, after considering each application, you arrive at the conclusion that modernization simply isn’t worth the investment, that’s fine. Containers can provide a permanent home for traditional applications, too.

4. Ongoing benefit: Laying the foundations for future innovation

Gazing further into the future, containers can deliver a lasting impression of your application strategy by laying the foundations for the next generation of apps and microservices.

Containers are the catalyst for modern application development, giving you and your organization the power to innovate. They encourage a new way of working and give rise to microservices thanks to more flexible DevOps. Developers can use the tools and languages they prefer, free from the limitations of vendor lock-in.

The modernizing effects that containers offer extend to security, too. Rather than hedging your bets with a single security vendor or platform, containers effectively deliver security as part of a software supply chain.

Cloud Clarity

Whatever your requirements from containers—be they long-term, short-term, or both—retaining an application-led strategic backbone to your engagement with them is crucial. Find out how you can harness the power of containers by exploring our list of 99 reasons to move applications to the cloud.

 Anne Greenwald is cloud director, Avanade Europe. Read more Avanade blogs here.