Jun 06, 2018 | 3 min read

Beginner’s Guide to Adopting Containers for Application Development

By: Patrick Emmons

Beginner’s Guide to Adopting Containers for Application Development

In the quest for digital transformation, containers aid in increasing the portability and rapid delivery of applications. They are a tool that fits perfectly within the Cloud, Agile, DevOps toolkit. The catch is, the decision to try containerization involves getting buy-in from multiple groups of people.

No matter what your role, here are 3 tips to help you convince your team to give application containers a shot.

1. Become an Expert on the Benefits of Containerization

If you are trying to make a case for adopting containers, it’s important that you know the business benefits inside and out. No matter who the stakeholders are, they’re likely busy with other priorities and are going to want to know what they can expect as a return on investment of their time and resources.

Here are 6 business benefits of using application containers:

  1. Isolated environment – Each container provides a separate environment where applications run independently.
  2. Automated deployment – All dependencies are documented in an executable, repeatable form.
  3. Dev/Test environments can match production - You'll use the same process to deploy to test as you do in production, so you'll be testing the deployment process every time you deliver a build to QA.
  4. Easy to fall back to a previous version – If the application has problems, backing out simply requires shutting down the new container and running the old one.
  5. No verification of server environment – You don’t have to validate the production environment before every release, so you won't overlook some setting that will make the deployment fail.
  6. House Microservices - Because you can run multiple versions of the microservice simultaneously, you don't have to worry about releases breaking applications you didn't know were calling your service.

2. Seek Opportunities to Develop a Proof of Concept

Being able to recite the business benefits of containers is one thing; providing evidence to back up your claims is another. It’s important to look for opportunities within your organization that can be used as test cases.

Here are some prime opportunities for a proof of concept:

  • Anything new – Because it is not in production yet, it doesn’t have immediate deployment needs.
  • Websites – I don’t mean anything that is critical to your business like an e-commerce site, but if your website is just used for marketing purposes, it’s a perfect opportunity to work with something cloud-native.
  • Non-critical services – I wouldn’t work on a service that requires authentication or security. You should choose a service that won’t affect production if it goes down.
  • Legacy projects – Do you have any stable legacy projects in backlog? This would be a great opportunity for a proof of concept.

3. Communicate Opportunities for Professional Development and Training

Part of getting people excited about trying something new when they are already bogged down with work is showing them how it might change their career path and give them opportunities to learn new skills.

There are endless resources for learning more about containerization and some of the key tools associated with it like Docker and Kubernetes.

Here are a few resources your team might want to start diving into:

  • Udemy.com - Udemy is an online learning platform. If you type “containers” into the search bar, the result is pages and pages of affordable courses for things like Docker, Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, AWS ECS, etc.
  • Stack Overflow – Stack Overflow is the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn and share their programming knowledge. It’s a solid resource for learning to leverage containers.
  • Docker Community – The Docker Community offers several ways to engage with other Docker enthusiasts who share a passion for virtual containers, microservices, and distributed applications.

To reap the benefits of application containers, everyone must be on board with their adoption and operate as a team to deliberately put them into practice. Because adopting new technology can sometimes be challenging, it helps to have an outsider facilitate change. If you want to learn more about containers and how they can fit into your DevOps toolchain, contact DragonSpears.

About Patrick Emmons

If you can’t appreciate a good sports analogy, movie quote, or military reference, you may not want to work with him, but if you value honesty, integrity, and commitment to improvement, Patrick can certainly help take your business or your career to the next level. “Good enough,” is simply not in his vernacular. Pat’s passion is for relentlessly pushing himself and others to achieve full potential. Patrick Emmons is a graduate of St. Norbert College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. Patrick co-founded Adage Technologies in 2001 and in 2015, founded DragonSpears as a spin-off dedicated to developing custom applications that improve speed, compliance and scalability of clients’ internal and customer-facing workflow processes. When he is not learning about new technology, running a better business, or becoming a stronger leader, he can be found coaching his kids’ (FIVE of them) baseball and lacrosse teams and praising his ever-so-patient wife for all her support.