Containers and Kubernetes may be the edge you need to keep moving forward

By Suresh Vasudevan - SEPTEMBER 8, 2020


If it wasn’t clear before the global pandemic, it is now: Cloud applications can keep businesses moving forward. During this time, people have been able to shop, connect with friends and, of course, work from home.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of companies that had to suddenly scale overnight to meet new demand, including food delivery, healthcare and on-field services. Netflix added nearly 16 million users in Q1 2020, doubling its target. Slack, Apple, Zoom, Reddit and Twitter are well-known cloud companies that suddenly saw heightened demand. Ford Motor Company said during the 2020 Red Hat Summit that its priorities suddenly shifted and having the ability to browse and purchase cars online became an immediate need. Being an OpenShift customer enabled Ford to make the transition more easily.

The analyst firm Enterprise Technology Research saw the same trends in a recent 1,200-person survey: “The market for IT suppliers is notably bifurcated. Those suppliers well-positioned have clear cloud plays with software as a service models, work-from-home plays and modern cloud-native stacks. Legacy on-premises vendors appear to be hardest-hit and selected cybersecurity players stand out from the crowd.”

The agility gained from the cloud has enabled companies to scale rapidly or pivot offerings to address new opportunities. Companies that can rapidly adapt to deliver new capabilities and features to customers, while also keeping employees productive, will weather this economic downturn, and potentially strengthen their competitive position.

Benefits Of The Cloud

What does it take to harness the potential of cloud apps? Most companies have learned that to get the benefits of the cloud, they need to change development and operations processes. When they embrace a DevOps approach and deploy apps on containers, they have the ability to accelerate innovation.

Rather than writing huge monolithic applications, modern apps are composed of small modular services deployed in containers. With modular services, assembled like Legos, changes can be made to an individual service without worrying about breaking the larger application. Each individual microservice may handle a small task, such as verifying a credit card in a shopping cart application.

Unlike traditional IT teams where everyone has siloed jobs, DevOps teams have members with a range of skills that enable them to take full responsibility for developing and operating a set of services. These teams speed deployment by quickly building and releasing new services or updates. Organizations using containerized services and a DevOps process can move from releasing new features yearly to weekly or daily. By making small improvements continually, they speed innovation and reduce risk.

What Is Secure DevOps?

Secure DevOps, also known as DevSecOps, is the process of integrating security and monitoring into the entire life cycle of an application, from development through production, and, in the event of an issue, troubleshooting. This sets the team up to deliver applications that are secure, stable and high performance.

There is a growing movement of companies adopting this workflow because it’s proven to be the most successful way to realize the agility potential of the cloud. According to projections by Gartner, “By 2021, DevSecOps practices will be embedded in 60% of rapid development teams, as opposed to 20% in 2019.”

Successfully Moving To The Cloud With Secure DevOps

As teams set up development processes for the cloud, they often focus first on developing and deploying the application, leaving the details of managing application health, security and compliance until later. However, you can think of your cloud environment as you would your car. There are routine maintenance, dashboards and alert systems that you depend on to keep your car running reliably.

Cloud teams often struggle because management assumes that the tools being used for legacy apps will work in the cloud. Just like you wouldn’t want your mechanic to use diagnostic tools from a time when engines weren’t controlled by electronics, legacy monitoring tools cannot get you the information you need when operating in the cloud. These containerized applications require specific tools that provide visibility into containerized environments and integrate into the secure DevOps process. This secure DevOps workflow embeds security, compliance and monitoring to prevent issues and maintain application health and performance.

Preparing to run apps begins in the build phase, and so should security. You should be scanning for known vulnerabilities and configuration errors while building your apps in order to reduce security risk. Compliance checks should also be run during the build process. Automating these checks and addressing issues early minimizes delays in deployment. You wouldn’t take a long car trip without checking the oil, tire pressure and gas level. Similarly, you need to confirm application security and health as you deploy.

Once a service is deployed, runtime alerts flag potential security and performance issues. Dashboards give DevOps teams visibility to monitor application health and performance, and the ability to make adjustments that prevent disruptions. With a car, you count on the dashboard to alert to engine temperature or fluid level changes so you can address them before they blossom into bigger problems that force you to make a trip to the mechanic.

If issues arise, the ability to review a detailed chain of events shortens the time required to investigate security and performance issues. Tracking down and resolving issues in container environments can be challenging. The same characteristics that make containers reliable to snap together like Legos make it difficult to see what’s going on inside. Just like your mechanic taps directly into your vehicle’s electronic system for diagnostics, your team needs deep visibility into system activity.

By adopting a secure DevOps workflow and a tool stack optimized for cloud and container environments, you will not only accelerate innovation, but deliver a better experience for customers and employees, which in both the short and long run will strengthen your organization.

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