Page 10 - EngineerIt April 2021
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        Containerisation is key for businesses

        needing to do more with less

        By Modeen Malick, senior systems engineer at Commvault South Africa

             t a time when economic pressures are forcing businesses to sweat their IT assets
             and do more with less, container technology and Kubernetes can be instrumental.
        AAchieving what is needed can be done by running more applications on fewer
        servers, bundling and running applications seamlessly, and dramatically reducing time to
        market for new products and services.
           Containers are similar to virtual machines (VMs), with file systems, central processing
        units (CPUs) and their own memory, but with the added benefit of being decoupled from
        the underlying infrastructure, so they are portable. Thus they offer a new way to build,
        organise and run cloud applications, which are scalable, agile, faster and quicker to deploy.
           Kubernetes is the most popular containerisation platform, and all major cloud providers
        offer it as part of their service portfolio. While Kubernetes may not solve all challenges,
        it does offer huge benefits. These include increased utilisation and integration compared
        to VMs and also solving issues such as enterprise production outages after a code or
        application deployment due to versioning conflicts.                                          Modeen Malick
           Kubernetes provides a framework to run distributed systems resiliently, by managing
        failover and scalability of systems. In addition, the Return on Investment (ROI) is business-  This distributed nature also separates
        focused, enabling businesses to become more lightweight and use fewer resources   components, potentially creating gaps
        compared to monolithic physical environments or VMs.                      where security risks could creep in.
                                                                                    When an application is installed,
        Better server utilisation                                                 troubleshooting becomes a challenge
        Containerisation allows businesses to drive up server utilisation, adding value by reducing   due to the sheer number of opportunities
        unnecessary resources, and container orchestration allows businesses to auto-mount the   for misconfiguration and vulnerability.
        storage of choice, whether local or in the cloud, for unprecedented flexibility and agility.  In addition, it does not provide a native
           It also offers automated rollout and roll back, which allows for swapping between   mechanism to encrypt, manage and
        restore points and going back to any given point in time. Faster reaction and time   share sensitive information, meaning that
        to market are hugely beneficial when business demands such agility. If Kubernetes   a data management system becomes a
        is properly implemented, the biggest benefit is seen in the productivity gains of the   crucial component.
        organisation and its staff, and the improvements in go-to-market speed.     Organisations wanting to get the
           This technology also provides more time on code, which means businesses have   most out of their Kubernetes investment
        more time to develop features their customers want and spend less time on debugging.   must have strong governance policies
        Kubernetes can be commissioned on the fly, and guarantee consistency for deployment,   and procedures in place. Businesses
        for improved testing capability.                                          need to look at how images are being
           Furthermore, it reduces spend on operating system licences and decreases the   built, how sensitive data is being handled,
        number of manhours required to patch and fix. It also decreases the need for costly   stored and accessed. From a security
        support for legacy environments and is open source, so there are many support   perspective, visibility is critical in terms of
        resources available.                                                      understanding what is being deployed,
                                                                                  where and how, who is accessing it,
        Adoption challenge                                                        and whether or not it is compliant with
        However, as with any technology implementation, the biggest challenge is ensuring   enterprise requirements.
        adoption by IT operations and staff, thus ensuring that people, processes and technologies   While Kubernetes is powerful, it is not
        work together. In addition, backup and recovery, data management and security are still   the right choice for every team and every
        requirements, so businesses need to consider how these will be affected by the adoption   situation. It is made to solve a certain
        of containerisation.                                                      set of problems, and if these problems
           Finally, the Kubernetes ecosystem has numerous deployment options, including in   are not your business’ problems, it may
        the cloud, on premise and hybrid scenarios, so data management is crucial to ensure that   end up being more trouble than it is
        organisations do not introduce data risk.                                 worth. Businesses should not implement
           Although containers enable speed, portability and a microservice architecture, they also   Kubernetes for the sake of it; they need
        introduce a few risks: they may create security blind spots and increase the attack surface,   to have the right business case to back
        because the distributed nature of containers makes it more difficult to maintain visibility.   up the investment.    n

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