«Innovation, stability, consistency and confidence: that’s what I stand for and that’s what my team stands for - together with all of UMB.»

Marco Reichmuth, Teamleader Solution Architecture

Transformation Trends: DevOps, Container and Microservices.

16/05/2017 - 10:46

Important trends in the IT industry are often signaled by the sudden appearance of technical terms whose meaning and significance frequently remain unclear for quite some time for many of us. That’s exactly what happened with Docker containers, microservices and DevOps – terms that are connected to others, such as continuous integration and continuous delivery.

(By Marco Reichmuth, Head of the UMB Enterprise Services Team)

UMB Containers
Container und Microservices for portable applications.

DevOps for the transformation of corporate culture

Not all IT terms describe software, hardware or programming activities. DevOps, for example, stands for the fusion of software engineering and IT operations. It is not so much about specific tools than an applied philosophy for the improvement of internal business processes and specifically the avoidance of breaks between development (Dev) and operations (Ops), with the aim of achieving a corporate culture which will enable a more efficient cooperation between developers and administrators and guarantee the swift implementation of top quality software – from design to delivery. To achieve this, principles applied concentrate on the employees involved.  Docker[i] director and DevOps expert John Willis summarized the basic principles for the transformation of a business by means of DevOps with the acronym CAMS:  culture, automation, measurement, sharing.  Culture: Problems are solved in a cooperative way, whereby the exchange of information and willingness to learn are essential.  Automation is part of DevOps because it frees resources which can be used to further innovation. Measurement in this context stands for the continuous assessment of work done by using benchmarks and standardized measurement criteria at all levels of software development and operations. Sharing in DevOps is about communicating knowledge and information within and among working groups – proactively and generously.

From continuous delivery to continuous integration

Frequently mentioned in the same context as DevOps is continuous delivery (CD).[ii] CD is a software engineering approach to improve software delivery processes and make them more efficient by making it possible to release software at any time – reliably and quickly. CD is not the same as DevOps, which has a much greater field of application and focuses less on automated software delivery than on internal culture. CD is however a close relative of continuous integration (CI)[iii]. As the name says, CI is about the permanent integration of new or modified software components in an application. The quality of the programs is much improved through instant feedback.

Container and microservices for portable applications

Containers didn’t get their name by chance; just as in the transport industry, the term describes a vessel which can be transported in a simple way. Such a vessel not only contains an application but also any necessary processes and files required to run it. Deploying an image, which shows any dependencies of an application, makes a container portable, keeps it consistent and makes it easily transferable from development to production. Containers are designed to run anywhere: in the cloud, locally or in mixed infrastructures. Other than virtual machines (VM), containers run without a built in operating system – OS resources are made available through an application program interface (API). While virtualizations enable the operation of a number of operating systems at the same time on a single system, containers share the same OS kernel and isolate the application from the rest of the system. This approach keeps them lean and fast.

Containers and microservices are closely connected, but they are not the same. Microservices are applications that support only one specific business function – such as making payments or operating a switchboard. Microservices run excellently in containers – but containers can of course be utilized for other applications. And containers are very well suited to the development and deployment of microservices. [iv]

Containers have been an important part of Unix and Linux for years, and the open source technology Docker is the most popular delivery method for Linux containers; according to Docker it is used by millions of developers. There are many companies in the container business – for example Microsoft with Windows Server Containers and Azure Container Service for the cloud, but also Google and its Container Engine for Docker containers. IBM, Amazon and VMware also offer platforms.

Are you ready for DevOps, containers or microservices?

UMB can offer you know-how and support:

  • for the conceptual design of solutions around DevOps and containers;
  • for the process adjustments required for the implementation of DevOps;
  • for the engineering, installation and configuration of a container platform for a private PaaS;
  • for the connection of your company with the UMB PaaS or another PaaS (such as Azure);
  • for the production of basic images required for development (middleware);
  • for the evaluation of a cloud strategy for your company and your business transformation.

We are looking forward to you contacting us.

AUTHOR

Marco Reichmuth is Head of the UMB Enterprise Services Team and as such responsible for key subjects such as mainframe, storage and Unix/Linux. He has been with UMB for more than ten years. As a B.Sc. and information technology specialist he has an engineering background and advises clients regarding IT architectural topics – including current issues such as the Cloud and Platform as a Service (PaaS).