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The rate of technological change is accelerating but IT budgets are not keeping up with the escalating pace of application and technology demands. Organisations are now compelled to move even faster, while stretching existing IT resources further. Kunle Fadeyi, Enterprise Architect at GBST, gives a guide to application containerisation.
The use of containers has exploded in popularity because application developers, wider IT teams and even business leaders have realised what major cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google have understood for a while: containers can significantly improve infrastructure and application efficiency, agility, and reliability.
A container is a set of configurations that allow lightweight portioning of an operating system into individual segments. Containerisation is the process of packaging an application with its required libraries, frameworks, and configuration files so that it can be run in various computing environments efficiently. By using container technology, organisations can run software on a variety of systems, including a developer’s laptop, all the way to a production system.
You may have heard of virtual machines, which have similar goals to containers in that they isolate an application and its dependencies into a self-contained unit that can run anywhere. Virtual machines were the first stage of making existing infrastructure more agile by removing the need for physical hardware and allowing for more efficient and cost effectiveness use of computing resources. Containers are the next phase in infrastructure agility. They do not need a full copy of the operating system, are smaller, use fewer resources, and are easier to automate than virtual machines, offering greater speed, agility, and portability.
Microservices architecture enables the breakup of large applications like Composer into a suite of independent services with each one handling a specific business function. These services use a simple, well-defined interface to communicate with each other.
Microservices and containers are a match made in tech heaven. They are used together to deliver smaller, single-function modules, which work collectively to create more scalable applications.
As the number of containers grow within your environment, the potential for friction and management overhead increases. Container management tools like Kubernetes lets you automate the deployment, management and scaling of your containers. These tools let you run one or more instances of any container based on your specific demand.
Here is an analogy to show how container, microservice and container management relate to each other:
A house contains multiple rooms with different functions – kitchen where we prepare meals, entertainment room for entertainments, bathroom etc. These rooms are like containers and the house is analogous to a container management system. The house provides electricity and plumbing which our fully functional kitchen connects to. Meal is an example of a microservice which is prepared in the kitchen container.
Our strategic investment in microservices allows us to use containers and container orchestration technologies to enable GBST’s modern application architecture.
Containers have been used in our Catalyst digital platform since its first rollout to the market in 2018. We have also introduced container technology into Composer back office from version 17.0 as part of the E-VOLVE technology transformation programme.
Adoption of containerisation has been crucial to our DevOps culture at GBST, as it allows our development team to build, test, and deploy pipelines and bridge the gap between infrastructure and operating system distributions.