Containers initially became popular because they provided a powerful tool for addressing several critical concerns of developers, including agility, portability and life cycle management. Now, the adoption of containers is also being driven by infrastructure and operations teams that want to take advantage of Kubernetes to help developers modernize existing applications in addition to hosting new cloud-native applications. With containers becoming established in the IT mainstream, some organizations are just now starting to kick off containerization initiatives in earnest.
Containers and Kubernetes are simply technology components for virtualizing applications and managing their resource usage and life cycles. To successfully extract business value from their use, organizations must take the appropriate steps to prepare for their adoption. Here are five priorities to focus on.
First, it is critical to identify the goals that you want to achieve as a direct result of containerization, and prioritize those objectives that are most likely to produce the greatest benefits. Next, it is important to plan for the organizational impact of adopting containers. In most cases, the application development and I&O teams will do the heavy lifting of realizing the goals for containers, but a properly scoped initiative will require buy-in from several other teams as well.
To unlock the full value of containers, it is important to embrace a culture of automation, adopting a declarative approach for specifying the desired state of systems with Kubernetes, as well as robust processes to automate the deployment and update of Kubernetes infrastructure and container runtimes. Next, determine which applications should be deployed in containers, focusing not only on new cloud-native applications, but also existing applications that can be containerized with minimal or no change, or with some refactoring. Finally, start the process of defining security and compliance policies for containerized applications as soon as possible, working with representatives from all groups that have an interest in the scope of these policies.
This document (Gartner subscription required) provides more detail on performing each of these steps. The order in which these steps are completed is not critical. Some steps may be much more difficult and time-consuming than others. However, ignoring any of these five aspects can cause substantial delays in your containerization initiative.