I frequently see a common pattern in my customers’ use of containers — lightweight packaging to build, ship and run applications — in the data center.
First, data center administrators download Kubernetes, an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications. They’ll experiment with the tools for a while, recognize the value of containers and come to see that they have powerful capabilities. But then, just as containers are poised to make a significant impact on the organization, data center administrators often pump the brakes.
They realize that, while containers can lead to great benefits, they also have the potential to affect nearly everything in the data center, upending how organizations consume resources ranging from storage and networking to security tools and cloud infrastructure.
At this point, customers typically reach out to CDW, relying on our extensive expertise to help them better understand the vendor landscape and the impact that containers can have on their organizations. Here’s what I tell them.
Benefits of Containers
Although traditional virtual machines greatly improve the efficiency of physical servers, they still require a fair amount of overhead costs and effort: a guest operating system, anti-virus tools, intrusion protection and more — all in addition to the actual application being run. A container model allows data center administrators to simply deliver the code they need to perform the function of the application, without all the extras.
For fairly obvious reasons, this leads to more efficient use of resources within the data center. With traditional VMs, a significant portion of resources such as memory and computing power are consumed by the guest operating system rather than supporting the actual mission of the application. The lighter footprint of containers has consequences throughout the data center. Compared to traditional VMs, a container model can require fewer racks, less energy for power and cooling, fewer software licenses, less maintenance and ultimately a smaller footprint for the physical data center.