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Red Hat 2017 Predictions: It's not "containers or virtualization." It's "containers AND virtualization."

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Gunnar Hellekson, director, product management, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Virtualization, Red Hat

2017 Predictions: It's not "containers or virtualization." It's "containers AND virtualization."

Market shifts are propelling traditional enterprises in all industries toward "digital transformation," which promises more speed, more agility, and quicker time-to-market. The biggest driver in this, according to research from Red Hat and Bain & Company, is digital innovation by their competitors. Those that wait to respond to competitors' moves risk being out-innovated by more proactive companies.

Because of this, more organizations are taking a hard look at Linux containers, which promise the kind of speed and portability needed to maintain competitive edge. But as IT and business professionals evaluate container technologies, many are feeling overwhelmed by confusing and often conflicting information available.

Evaluating containers typically starts with a  fundamental question: Are containers just a faster, more lightweight reimagining of server virtualization? It's a reasonable place to start, as both technologies seem to occupy a similar space, with virtualization as the incumbent.  

But for 2017, it's important to consider where containers are going versus where virtualization already is. Our report shows that  there is high interest in moving containers beyond web applications to more traditional applications (e.g., databases, business intelligence/analytics, custom apps) over the next three years. While early container adopters are prioritizing net new applications (it makes sense to pair a new technology with a new application), we are also seeing examples of companies containerizing older, monolithic applications, some of which may already be running on virtualized infrastructure.  Whether a cloud-native application or a containerized legacy workload, the end goal is usually the same - to improve adaptability and cost efficiency by increasing portability, decreasing complexity and streamlining the overall application lifecycle.

With all of this laid out, here's my prediction:

Virtualization is here to stay,and containers make it more important.

As I've said in a previous article, there's a belief that containers and virtualization are essentially the same thing. This absolutely not true - containers and virtualization do have a lot in common, but not as much as some people think. They're complementary, not competitive.

This can be highlighted by the simple fact that virtual machines (VMs) can be a perfect environment for running containerized workloads. Rather than tearing out existing IT investments for a newer, shinier technology running on bare metal -- CIOs around the world just got a chill -- deploy your containers on your existing VMs. Virtual machines deliver the necessary compute resources in a more secure, familiar environment that you already trust, while containers can speed application deployment and management as necessary.

The trick is getting all of these things to work together. That's where a open, standards-based frameworks like OpenShift, OpenStack and Red Hat Virtualization can help, by acting as a "manager" to help enterprises gain the innovative aspects of Linux containers on existing infrastructure.


About the Author

Gunnar Hellekson is the Director of Product Management for Red Hat's Linux, Virtualization, and Atomic container product lines. Before that, he was Chief Strategist for Red Hat's US Public Sector group.  He is a founder of Open Source for America, one of Federal Computer Week's Fed 100 for 2010, and was voted one of the FedScoop 50 for industry leadership. He was a founder of the Military Open Source working group, a member of the SIIA Software Division Board, the Board of Directors for the Public Sector Innovation Group, the Open Technology Fund Advisory Council, New America's California Civic Innovation Project Advisory Council, and the CivicCommons Board of Advisors. 

Gunnar Hellekson 

Published Thursday, January 12, 2017 7:03 AM by David Marshall
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