Containers are highly efficient vehicles for developing and deploying apps. As container usage ramps up, the complexity of managing containers across the totality of your IT infrastructure rises exponentially – making a container management platform essential at the enterprise level. In this article we’ll look at five benefits of Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform.
While containers can be thought of as a next-generation approach to virtualization, they share one downside with virtual machines: container sprawl (rather than VM sprawl). Given that containers can be deployed in far higher numbers than virtual machines, managing provisioning, deployment, tracking, and repairs of multiple containers across your IT architecture can be extremely challenging.
Container platforms help you deal with this challenge by enabling you to efficiently provision, test, deploy, scale, and run your containers across multiple hosts and operating environments, perform automatic health checks, and ensure high availability in expected workloads. Platforms like these, including Red Hat’s OpenShift, make container use viable for enterprise applications.
Why it’s important to consider open source (vs. proprietary)
Unlike most propriety options, open source platforms like OpenShift have advantageous developer/user communities that can typically assist in quicker bug fixes and increase functionality. OpenShift also combats many of the challenges that containerization can orchestrate, including:
- Difficulty deploying containers across various frameworks, languages, or databases
- Issues with ramping container resource usage up and down in response to container use
- Issues with tracking dependencies
- Difficulty tracking and monitoring container deployment on a systemic level to avoid bottlenecks and maximize productivity
- Excessive time required to manage overall container usage across your system architecture
- Difficulty and time involved in provisioning containers and performing health management checks
- Issues with scaling applications
- Inability to run both stateful applications and cloud-native stateless applications simultaneously
- Excessively complicated container provisioning procedures
OpenShift allows you to address the above issues by using an open source architecture that enables you to run applications across physical, virtual, public, private, or hybrid cloud infrastructure. Any applications originating on OpenShift can run on any environment supporting Docker-formatted containers.
The platform features a robust set of command-line functionality tools as well as a multidevice web console, facilitating container orchestration across the entirety of your environment. Rapid scalability involving hundreds of instances across thousands of nodes – along with automated application builds and container health management – is also supported.
Let’s look at the benefits of Openshift container platform.
1. Innovate and go to market faster
OpenShift enables your development team to focus on doing what they do best – designing and testing applications. When they are freed from spending excessive time managing and deploying containers, they can speed up the development process and get products to market more rapidly.
Consider the case of a company specializing in the design and sale of integrated circuits. The cycle of innovation in this industry is relentless; as new technologies arise, chipmakers who can most effectively design chips for these new uses will be the ones who gain market share. For example, the rapid rise of the smart phone has been a boon to companies that have designed chips to power it.
Orchestrating container usage via the OpenShift platform provides a marked efficiency advantage to chipmakers who utilize containers for the next-generation virtualization benefits they offer. Deploying an increased number of apps on existing system resources enables a chipmaker to provide its developers with an expanded toolset to increase their ability to innovate. In an industry where a chipmaker’s main products can become outdated – if not obsolete – within a year or less, the ability to innovate and bring a product to market rapidly is a significant competitive advantage.
2. Accelerate application development
Deploying and managing containers at scale is a complicated process. OpenShift enables efficient container orchestration, allowing rapid container provisioning, deploying, scaling, and management. The tool enhances the DevOps process by streamlining and automating the container management process. Cutting down on time that would otherwise be spent managing containers improves your company’s productivity and speeds up application development.
Accelerated application development is especially valuable in enterprises where a company’s IT system must accommodate rapidly evolving functions. An example of this is the cybersecurity industry. Companies in this industry face an arms race against hackers, who are continually looking for software flaws to exploit. When an exploit is found, cybersecurity firms are expected to respond with fixes as rapidly as possible – often in days, if not hours.
If the development team at such a firm is delayed by container management issues, it can mean missing out on developing a timely fix; if this happens often enough, it can erode a company’s competitive position vis-à-vis its rivals. By streamlining and automating the container automation process, OpenShift enables cybersecurity developers to focus on accelerating application development, updates, and product distribution.
3. Enterprise-grade, container-based platform with no vendor lock-in
A company’s IT needs can vary greatly from one period to the next. Selecting a proprietary container management platform subjects you to the possibility that your vendor won’t be able to provide an acceptable solution if your company’s IT focus changes. In such cases, the expense and time involved in moving from a proprietary vendor to a new platform can be considerable.
Consider the case of a company with worldwide manufacturing facilities that implements a proprietary container platform tool. If the company shifts its production approach to a process that requires it to change to a new operating system – one that isn’t supported by its containerization platform – the company will face the expensive task of redoing its containerization orchestration on another platform.
With a vendor-agnostic open source platform, users can migrate their container processes to the new operating system quickly – while avoiding the extensive costs often involved in migrating from a proprietary operating framework.
4. Enable DevOps and department-wide collaboration
The DevOps process relies upon transparent communication between all involved parties. Containerization provides a convenient means of enabling your IT operations staff to test instances of a new app. OpenShift assists this process by making it easy to test apps throughout your IT architecture without being impeded by framework conflicts, deployment issues, or language discrepancies.
One industry that can benefit from OpenShift’s enablement of enhanced DevOps processes is the webhosting and development field. Companies competing in this industry are constantly racing to offer their customers enhanced functionality. For instance, as web commerce increases by leaps and bounds, companies and individuals progressively look to sell their products over the web. They can do this by adding web sales functionality to their own sites via widgets designed for this purpose, or by purchasing sites with built-in sales functionality.
A company operating in this field, which requires constantly updated functionality to stay competitive, needs to empower its employees to design and test applications as rapidly and effectively as possible. By enabling developer and operations staff to collaborate efficiently, OpenShift allows web hosting and design companies to link developers and operations staff together to effectively design, test, and deploy applications.
5. Self-service provisioning
Assembling the proper tools to create applications on your system architecture can be a challenge, especially at the enterprise level. OpenShift makes the process easy by allowing for the integration of the tools you use most across your entire operating environment.
This self-service provisioning helps improve developer productivity by allowing your development team to work with the tools they are most comfortable using – speeding up the development process by enabling faster creation and deployment of applications. At the same time, OpenShift allows your operations staff to retain control over the environment as a whole.
Examples of how this feature benefits users can be seen in companies where the development staff must be fluent in a variety of development tools and languages. For instance, a video game development company can benefit from this feature when they need to develop games that are compatible with a variety of operating systems. OpenShift enables the game developer’s programmers to use their favorite tools while developing games for different systems. This results in effective container usage, without forcing the company’s developers to use tools they aren’t familiar with.
A major portion of the added efficiency of containerization at the enterprise level, perhaps as much as 50 percent, comes from orchestrating container usage throughout your environment. OpenShift offers a platform for managing your containers across a variety of operating environments, significantly reducing the time necessary to build, deploy, and scale them. As an open source next-generation virtualization tool, OpenShift provides you with the all the functionality you need to optimize containerization usage with your existing IT resources.