In a world where data is doubling, and user expectations for data (how they want it, when they want it, where they want it) are compounding, speed and agility are keys to data integration success. For that reason, many enterprises are jumping on the container bandwagon. According to a Forrester report, 66% of enterprises experienced accelerated developer efficiency when they adopted containers, and 75% of companies experienced a moderate to significant increase in application deployment speed with containers. Find out what makes containers so valuable in today’s data-driven world.

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The Ever-Evolving Container Market

Virtual machines are still widely used for applications, but as the container market and the communities of users and practitioners continue to mature, containerization has grown from the initial point of early adopters to a broader community. Large enterprises are attracted to the efficiencies and simplification that containers bring to data integration. Smaller companies tend to be driven by the increased agility that containers deliver, but many are still holding back. To achieve the maturity needed to become a serious consideration for small companies, containers need two things:

  • A low cost of entry: Small business have relatively small budgets. Cost is king.
  • Support from cloud providers: More cloud providers are now supporting containers with capabilities like EC2 container service, Microsoft Azure container instances, or integration with things like AWS batch to make container management easier for small and often less-skilled IT teams.

Benefits of Containerization

Containers are quite complex by nature. Deployment should be managed by a knowledgeable IT team that can balance concerns over container security while maintaining high availability and performance. Once the containers are up and running, the benefits will quickly emerge:

  • Efficiency: Containers don’t have the additional layers of hypervisor that virtual machines require, thus eliminating the redundancy of guest operating systems. Rather than using hypervisor as the mechanism for virtualization, containers use the OS directly. That not only allows you to pack more computing power more densely on your existing compute serves, it allows you to churn them quicker, because you can implement your elastic services, spin them up, run them, and then spin them down faster. Another advantage of containers: they can be brought into action on an as-needed basis and go into hiding when not needed, freeing up more room on the host.
  • Cost savings: The compact, portable, and scalable nature of containers reduces hardware and software costs from the outset. Much less hands-on management is required with containers as compared to VMs, reducing the need for costly IT management time.

Flexibility: Containers don’t lock you in to any systems, and their plug and play nature allows them to be mixed and matched and easily connected to other public containers. This flexibility gives IT admins more control over scaling and resource allocation.

Faster lifecycles: Powerful container orchestration tools like Kubernetes enable enterprises to churn their containers faster — on average less than once a day. Kubernetes is one of a handful of solutions that provides automated container orchestration and management.  If a more manual container orchestration method is in use, it becomes less dynamic, and the typical churn increases to five days. Regardless of orchestration method, containers clearly have virtual machines beat when it comes to lifecycle. If you are focused on driving demand and rapid adoption and API development, containers are a means to can get there quicker.

Rapid Growth:  By the same token, if you can get there quicker, you’re evolving faster. We have seen companies deploying containers explode over just a ten-month period, because of the increase of time to market speed, and the return on investment is just that fast.

Microservices: The nature of containers work well with microservices. Microservices are an emerging application architecture that accommodates agile development and artifacts and enables companies to develop and release new digital services quickly. Because containers provide a lightweight and consistent runtime environment, it is faster and easier to get new applications up and running. And it’s all in the cloud, which is cheaper than running on VMs.

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Running Containers in the Cloud with Talend

We have observed that about 90 percent of Talend customers are using either the cloud, public cloud, or a hybrid. Those environments provide a common logical platform for using containers. Modern, lightweight application designs like Talend offer a simple, container ready path. Talend data integration jobs are simple Java applications.  They are autonomous, self-contained applications that can be easily specified in a Docker file with full confidence that all dependencies have been addressed.

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One example: If you’re running in the cloud with Azure container instances, you still have the same contract. You’re deploying your Talend job in Azure inside a container. The isolation for your job protects you from the variations that you might encounter on-premise. This scenario is highly portable: should you need to move, you’re not locked into a cloud, you’re not locked into one customer environment. And if you come across something very unusual about a certain customer’s network environment, you’re shielded and protected because you have Docker and Kubernetes in place.

If you’re using Azure or AWS Fargate, you will notice that responsibilities that were previously owned by application servers are increasingly being delegated to the cloud provider. Ideally, you want to have loose coupling but tight integration with the cloud infrastructure. This will take lot of those responsibilities like logging, identity access management, security, scheduling, or configuration off your plate and put them on the cloud service.

Containers in the Cloud: Are You Ready?

There are many benefits of running applications in containers and running the containers in the cloud only maximizes the benefits. Enterprises are looking for the next best way gain IT efficiencies while coping with the data explosion and flat budgets, and containers might be the answer. Packaging up all the libraries and dependencies of an application into one small container that can be stacked among other containers is certainly an effective way to manage applications.

Even if you are on board with containers, your environment may not be prepared. Read this article to learn more: Is Your Data Integration Platform Container Ready?