The battle for competitive differentiation has moved to the application layer. Technology-powered business models, enabled by new applications and new types of customer interactions, have made rapid application development and improvement key to business success.
Simply put, evolving customer behaviours and expectations are driving digital transformation across industries. Customers expect to interact with your business using whatever method that suits them at the time—at a physical location, through your website or a mobile app, or with a live customer service agent via an app or the phone. It’s the same with your employees—they continue to demand ever-efficient ways to connect with your business and with each other.
Your advantage depends on the speed at which your developers can create robust new cloud and mobile apps or refactor legacy software to create new value or experiences. This need for speed has led to the rapid adoption of containerised application 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 cloud-based and cloud-native applications.
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). This makes it easy to move the containerised application between 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 to move. All of this helps 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:
Banca Popolare di Sondrio, a century-old national bank with its head office in Sondrio, Italy, has been innovating in online banking since 1997. It relies on a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) environment from VMware to help it innovate in today’s world of omnichannel customer experience. And 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 allow us to 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 that are partnering with VMware to accelerate digital innovations with container technology. 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 it 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.
A typical enterprise could be running thousands of containers in clusters at one time for new application development and legacy application 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.
It’s clear that Kubernetes can help businesses 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. Businesses that deploy container/Kubernetes technology in a VM environment benefit from the isolation, security and management features of VMs, as well as the agility and portability features 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 ensures customer data remains secure and compliant.
Enterprises 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. Download the VMware eBook, “Kubernetes for Executives” and learn how your business can benefit from this approach. ▪