Forrester: Rise of Containers Forcing IT Automation

Now that 31 percent of IT organizations are deploying containers, Forrester Research says it’s only a matter of time before IT operations that continue to rely on manual process will be overwhelmed.

Speaking this week at the ChefConf 2017 conference, Rob Stroud, principal analyst for Forrester Research, told attendees that IT organizations are rapidly discovering that the simplest way to lift and shift applications into the cloud is to redeploy them using containers. That shift is occuring at the same time next-generation applications employing microservices based on containers are being built faster than any previous generation of applications, he said.

As a result, Stroud advised attendees that about the worst thing they can do at this juncture is “stick their heads in the sand” by ignoring the rise of containers. Instead, IT operations will need to develop an IT strategy that enables them to mix and match platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and container-as-a-service (CaaS) environments along with Kubernetes clusters to deploy both legacy and cloud-native applications, he said.

Digital business transforms are starting to put pressure on IT operations teams to increase the velocity at which applications are rolled out, he noted. Yet, IT operations teams are not prepared to meet that challenge. The good news is that more than half of respondents to a recent Forrester survey reported having implemented DevOps to some degree. Better still, IT operations teams are driving more of those initiatives, he said, noting that 69 percent of the IT operations teams surveyed by Forrester are now leading DevOps initiatives. But only 29 percent have automated the application deployment processes. The huge problem, he said, is that fewer than 40 percent of the organizations surveyed by Forrester are implementing changes to their IT environment faster than once a quarter.

Obviously, organizations that embrace containers and serverless computing frameworks are moving faster than those that don’t. But Stroud cautioned that even those organizations need to be careful not to find themselves managing silos of automation within their IT environments. In fact, Stroud noted there’s a tendency for developers to automate a process only to have IT operations teams use a separate tool to automate the same process. That occurs because there’s a lack of trust between developers and IT operations teams, he said.

Rather than having to master separate tools for each computing model, Chef provides an extensible framework for integrating DevOps that spans multiple computing models, said Chef CTO Adam Jacob. In fact, he noted one of the core issues the IT industry has never addressed is the need to make management frameworks flexible enough to absorb new computing models such as containers and serverless computing. Each new computing model that comes along forces IT organizations to retool, which slows adoption of new computing models. Jacob went so far as to say that lack of flexibility represents a fundamental design flaw that ails the entire IT industry.

Regardless of where any organization is in terms of DevOps maturity, there’s no doubt that DevOps is critical for driving digital business transformations. The only remaining issue now is how much organizational pain will be experienced achieving that goal.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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