“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones”
– John Maynard Keynes.
Containers have taken the world by storm! Many companies have begun to show a fervent interest in this next evolution on Virtual Machines. With a plethora of container definitions out there, let me just attempt to give a layman understanding of the term. Container, in simple terms, is something that helps your software run consistently irrespective of the underlying host environment. It ensures the predictability and compatibility of your application across the diverse landscape of infrastructure.
To exemplify this, let us suppose you borrow a movie from your friend but it is not compatible with your PC because you don’t have the video player to display it. Here comes the role of a container, which will fill in the deficit caused by the PC.
We, at Parkar, have seen how container orchestration using Kubernetes and OpenShift have immensely helped companies get on the fast-paced delivery and digital transformation journey. Let me attempt to break it down.
What really happens in production using containers?
Have you ever been to a symphony? An orchestra ? or a music concert? You must have seen many artists doing what they do best and in the center would be the maestro managing the entire show. Now imagine in a production environment, you need to manage the containers that run the applications and ensure that there is no downtime. Modern applications, especially the ones based on microservice architecture, usually contain multiple services (run in separate processes) and each is run in a separate container. Thus a single application contains multiple container-services and their multiple instances.
Think of a scenario where a container/service instance goes down. Ideally, another instance would need to start and serve in its place. How would you manually be able to keep track and handle this lag? Wouldn’t it be easier if this behavior was automated without any human intervention? This is exactly where container orchestration comes in and helps solve this problem.
Container orchestration is an automated process of managing, scheduling and balancing the workload on the container or containers for the applications. Container orchestration tools help in managing the containerized workloads and services.
The most widely used container orchestration platforms are Open Source Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, and Enterprise Red Hat OpenShift. Kubernetes is the most popular orchestration tool out there and has kind of become a name in itself !
Our recent project involved us working on a PAAS platform where we built a Next Generation application mobilization platform involving OpenShift and Kubernetes. Using this platform, an API marketplace was created which facilitated access to data from legacy applications and enabled the creation of new applications in a rapid and scalable manner.
But Is Kubernetes enough in itself?
Kubernetes had become a brand name, and perhaps is the most efficient of them all. However, Kubernetes is just a container orchestration tool, which also needs to be supplemented with an additional toolset for container registry, discovery, networking, monitoring services, and storage management. Kubernetes also needs to depend on other service mesh tools like Istio for service to service communication. There are several architectural and integration considerations that have to be met to make all of this work together. Building container-based applications require even more integration work with middleware, frameworks, databases, and CI/CD tools. To augment the base Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift combines all these auxiliaries into a single platform, and thus presents a more complete solution to DevOps.
Let us understand what Red Hat Openshift Platform is, shall we?
Red Hat OpenShift platform is a combination of Dev and Ops tools on top of Kubernetes to streamline application development, deployment, scaling, and long-term lifecycle maintenance for small and large teams in a consistent manner. In other words, it is a ‘Kubernetes Platforms as a Service’.
What’s the big advantage of it? Red Hat OpenShift brings over the bare Kubernetes, meaning it lets teams start building, developing, deploying easily and quickly, in infrastructure agnostic way, i.e. whether in the cloud or on-premises.
Image Source: https://www.openshift.com/learn/what-is-openshift
Parkar’s clients have seen tremendous benefits with containers. The benefits have been across application deployment frequency, time to deploy and number of deployments overall. And with these benefits the customers could roll-out features much faster.
Fig : Benefits realized by Parkar’s Clients using Containers
What more does Red Hat OpenShift offer?
A lot, I would say! Here are some of the top benefits:
Full-stack automated operations
Red Hat OpenShift offers automated installation, upgrades, and life cycle management for every part of your container stack.
- It provides a single-step installation for Kubernetes applications.
- It gives centralized administrative control for over-the-air updates and performance tuning with Kubernetes operators.
- It offers continuous security through built-in authentication and authorization, secrets management, auditing, logging, and integrated container registry.
Red Hat OpenShift supports well-known developer tools and helps streamline your build and delivery workflows.
- It has code in production-like environments with developer self-service and Red Hat Code Ready Workspaces.
- It extends support for your choice of languages, databases, frameworks, and tools.
- It offers streamlined workflows like automated container builds, built-in CI/CD, and application deployment.
Built-in service mesh for microservices
Microservices architectures can cause communication between the services to become complex to encode and manage. The Red Hat OpenShift service mesh abstracts the logic of interservice communication into a dedicated infrastructure layer, so communication is more efficient and distributed applications are more resilient.
- It’s installed and updated via Kubernetes operators.
- It incorporates Istio service mesh, Jaeger (for tracing), and Kiali (for visibility) on a security-focused, enterprise platform.
- It frees developers from being responsible for service-to-service communication.
A unified Kubernetes experience on any infrastructure !
Red Hat OpenShift is a consistent Kubernetes experience for on-premises and cloud-based deployments. Assisted by unified operations and admin controls, all the workload is decoupled from infrastructure, thereby consuming less time spent on system maintenance and more on building critical services.
In conclusion, the Red Hat OpenShift platform does simplify quite a lot of things for IT teams in terms of abstraction, efficiency, automation, and overall productivity. Albert Einstein had once quoted: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’; and that quote rings true throughout this article, which is to say at every step there are tools to ease operations, and to handle it most efficiently.
Parkar can help your organization in reaching your business goals. Contact us for more information about how we can make a difference.
Innovative Director of Software Engineering. Entrepreneurial, methodical senior software development executive with extensive software product management and development experience within highly competitive markets. I am an analytical professional skilled in successfully navigating corporations large and small through periods of accelerated growth.