Some things work better in partnership: the bringing together of two distinct skill sets or areas of expertise that complement each other and collectively help boost performance.

Take for example the two-man bobsled. Featuring a pilot and brakeman, the sport has come a long way since British holidaymakers first created the legendary Cresta Run at St Moritz in the late 19th century. In fact, it’s been a regular at the Winter Olympics since 1932.

Slide into the world of IT, and there’s another partnership taking the developer community by storm: microservices and containerization. Indeed it’s estimated that 42% of developers are using container technology – while the microservices market is forecast to grow 22% to $1.8 billion by 2023.

The push zone – moving on from virtualization

Why do these two different approaches work so well together? Well, high level they represent the ”next step” on from virtualization. Indeed they build upon this foundation, and offer developers a new, more agile and potentially cost-effective way to create cloud applications:

Containerization

Offers the tools and methodologies used to organize and develop microservices. This includes the packaging of software, and includes everything it needs to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, and setting – while being isolated from other software.

Each container is created to run an individual microservice, thereby allowing different teams to work on different microservices independently. They can also be dynamically created or deleted based on load, making automation crucial as the rapid creation of containers enables scaling and high availability.

Microservices

These use containerization to deliver smaller, single-function services built around specific business logic. Running their own processes, and communicating only via APIs, these microservices are independently scalable, upgradeable, and deployable.

All of which means that with microservices there’s no need for developers to build and deploy new software versions every time they change or scale a specific function. In addition, each service can independently scale in response to demand without consuming unnecessary resources.

The first corner – more agile development environments

As for why the combination is gaining such popularity, the underlying promise is that it enables more dynamic and cost-efficient build processes.

As the tech industry increasingly moves away from the development of large, monolithic apps, microservices and containerization support:

  • The breaking down of large apps into smaller, discrete functions or processes that are built and evolve independently
  • Each microservice is self-contained, does not share data with other microservices, and is only accessible via its API
  • They’re also unchanging, meaning each one is replaced rather than updated and scale out for each independent function
  • Microservices are also infrastructure-agnostic, which gives them the edge over traditional app delivery methods as there’s little need for configuration or code changes when porting services
  • By containing all the required code to execute a particular microservice instance, containers can break a problem into small pieces – and create efficient, isolated, and decoupled execution engines for each app and service

Picking up speed – deployment in the cloud

All of which is changing the way businesses use and design their cloud environments. Because architectures aren’t all bundled together, apps can be built using a set of loosely coupled services – which can be updated and scaled separately under the container infrastructure.

This helps businesses get smarter and quicker when developing cloud-based apps. Plus, by breaking these down into easier-to-manage components, a combination of microservices and containerization also makes it easier to move the components and workloads between a range of environments – from in-house servers to public cloud platforms.

That’s why the ‘partnership’ is seen as being perfectly suited to building apps in the cloud. An ideal mix of independently deployed capabilities, combined with a platform for letting them run across different dev environments.

The final run – talking complexity and cloud security

Finally it’s worth briefly looking at some of the criticisms leveled at containers and microservices, with the main two being:

They complicate cloud-native security.

The allegation here being that security quickly becomes more difficult – with more chances of lapses – when building apps with multiple ‘tiny’ apps. This difficulty also extends to finding a root problem after a successful attack has occurred.

The reality however is that containers actually represent improved security in many instances, and can be far more secure than even a robust VM. Add in container orchestration tools, and it’s becoming easier to enforce cloud-native security at source.

Containerized microservices add significant complexity to any project.

The argument here being that having multiple containers (all storing one single service) can be a cause of significant trouble if they’re not designed and built correctly from the beginning.

Such concerns are of course valid. However it can be argued that the biggest problem with complexity is simply a lack of experience. These are new approaches to app development, and it can be hard to find experienced developers to lead a project – and ensure all the moving parts are correctly ‘joined’ together.

Reach your finishing line in record time

Experience matters when it comes to exploiting the full potential of containerization and microservices. Get that right and you open up a world of cloud app dev opportunities. COMPAREX can help you identify opportunities for introducing this new approach into your dev environment, and then closely support any on-going projects.

 

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Jan Ebrard

Jan Ebrard

Solution Advisor

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