Evolving customer behaviours and expectations are driving digital transformation across industries. Customers and partners expect to interact with an organisation using whatever method suits them at the time—at a physical location, through a website, using a mobile app or by phone with a live customer service agent. It’s the same with employees—they continue to demand efficient ways to connect with their organisation and with each other. 


An organisation’s ability to engage users and maintain competitive advantage depends on the speed at which its developers can create robust modern apps or refactor legacy software to create new value and experiences. This need for speed has led to the rapid adoption of containerised app deployment—a key technology for boosting developer speed and productivity.


Over the past few years, developers have been the driving force behind the increased adoption of containers. That’s because the technology reduces the time it takes to develop and deliver modern cloud-based and cloud-native apps. 


Over the past few years, developers have been the driving force behind the increased adoption of containers. That’s because the technology reduces the time it takes to develop and deliver cloud-based and cloud-native applications. 


What are containers?

Containers are an abstraction and isolation technology used by developers to package an application, and all the files needed to run it, in a way that isolates the application from the underlying host operating system (OS). Developers and operations teams can then move the containerised application among different environments—such as development, test and production—while retaining the application’s full functionality. Containerised applications are more lightweight than those developed using traditional approaches, which means applications are easier to update and move. All of these advantages help improve the time and efficiency of application development, delivery and deployment. 

The popularity of containers has been driven by some key megatrends in enterprise IT:


  • Digital transformation – Transformative organisations are the ones deploying digital platforms and approaches that enable them to continuously develop, deliver and maintain robust new applications faster than competitors.

  • Multi-cloud – Because of their “contained” nature, containerised applications can quickly and easily be moved and maintained across on-premises, private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

  • Open-source – While container technology has been around for some time, containers became mainstream among developers after the public release of the Docker open-source container format in 2013 and the Kubernetes orchestration platform in 2014.

  • DevOps – Containers are becoming the default application packaging format for DevOps teams, enabling developers to share their software and associated dependencies easily with IT operations and production teams. Because containerised applications are decoupled from the host OS, developers can focus on developing applications using their favourite tools, while IT ops can focus on deployment and management. Containers simplify and accelerate the build-test-deploy lifecycles in DevOps. 


Delivering tangible business benefits with containers

Banca Popolare di Sondrio, a century-old national bank with its head office in Sondrio, Italy, has been innovating with online banking since 1997. It relies on a Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC) environment from VMware to help it innovate in today’s world of omnichannel customer experience. Container technology plays a huge role in this strategy.

“We started using containers to add a new layer of abstraction that goes beyond operating systems,” explains Piergiorgio Spagnolatti, head of infrastructure at Banca Popolare di Sondrio. “Containers let us keep the existing toolset for operations, while allowing the dev teams to leverage the new application architectures that come with containers.”


Spagnolatti adds: “With our cloud foundation in place, we are now looking at how we can deploy emerging technologies—such as blockchain—to drive additional business value, including enhanced security and improved efficiency.” 


Banca Popolare di Sondrio is one of many well-established businesses partnering with VMware to accelerate digital innovation with container technology. For example, a national bank in North America notes that container technology helps it reduce application delivery time from as much as 12 months to between 3 and 6 months. This accelerated app delivery supports its goal of shifting customer interactions to digital platforms.


Another VMware financial services customer in Asia says container technology allows that company to be agile with any workload—an important benefit as it strives to remain the region’s leading digital bank. Developing in a container environment also enables the bank’s developers and business leaders to more quickly explore new applications and services to support the bank’s growth initiatives.


Containers are not enough: Management and orchestration with Kubernetes

A typical enterprise could be running thousands of containers in clusters at one time for new app development and legacy app refactoring. Enterprises need a robust container orchestration and management technology to deploy and manage containers at scale.

Kubernetes is an open-source orchestration system that manages containerised applications in distributed clusters. Kubernetes accelerates and scales application development by managing and automating resource utilisation, failure handling, availability, configuration and scalability. Users can spin up a new container cluster in a matter of minutes.

How Kubernetes Helps

Containers + Kubernetes + virtualisation = Transformation for the enterprise

It’s clear that Kubernetes can help organisations accelerate application deployment and simplify application management. Yet virtualisation continues to be critical in their IT environments. Application development doesn’t mean a choice between a container/Kubernetes environment and a virtual machine (VM) environment. Organisations that deploy container and Kubernetes technology in a VM environment benefit from the isolation, security and management features of VMs, as well as the agility and portability advantages of containers. 

Containers with VMs encase an application with two layers of isolation, an approach well suited to cloud-style environments with multitenancy and multiple workloads. For example, while Banca Popolare di Sondrio’s SDDC—based on VMware vSphere Integrated Containers—gives the bank the flexibility to build innovative solutions, micro-segmentation through VMware NSX software-defined networking helps safeguard customer data and maintain compliance.


Organisations see transformative business outcomes when they accelerate application development, delivery and deployment. Containerised applications in a VM environment managed and orchestrated by Kubernetes are important enablers that are hard to ignore. Register to download the VMware e-book “Kubernetes for Executives” and learn how your business can benefit from this approach. ▪


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