Future of containers faces tools surplus, skills shortage

Monday, May 23rd 2022

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The container migration and management challenge

Many well-established companies have built up large, stable application environments with major install bases and several million lines of legacy code. Now those companies find it increasingly difficult to compete with smaller, born-in-the-cloud companies built on flexibility and speed.

“The economics of the new model is so compelling that the decision to not move forward with containers and microservices is akin to the decision to go out of business,” said Janae Stow Lee, consultant at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm based in Boulder, Colo.

But it’s not an easy transition to make. Legacy monolithic applications — those with millions on millions of lines of code, in particular — are difficult to break into microservices and containers, both technologically and in terms of staffing. Even after a migration, it can be difficult to find staff with the necessary skills to manage a container deployment — and equally difficult to build those skills in house. A cloud platform can relieve some of that pressure, but it won’t eliminate it. Invariably, poor planning will result in a disaster.

“The danger of replicating your on-premises mess in the cloud is very real,” Atelsek said.

Not only is container management a total technological shift, but it’s a drastic cultural change as well. Implementing both organizational and technological shifts concurrently is among the tallest — and most important — hurdles to clear. Containers, microservices and cloud architectures can only benefit a company if it implements and manages them efficiently. And while there’s a growing number of them on the market, choosing the right container management platform for your needs isn’t always easy.

For example, while managed container and Kubernetes services, such as EKS, AKS and GKE, can simplify deployments, there are potential tradeoffs.

“Buying an all-in service makes [container management] easier because more of that integration and abstraction work is provided,” Stow Lee said. “The downside of doing that, of course, is you turn the keys of your IT kingdom over to someone who may not always have your best interests at heart.”

Determine if the simplification of an all-in-one managed service is worth the loss of access and control over the back end. Weigh that option against the complexity of managing it yourself to retain that access.

These tough decisions and tradeoffs, coupled with the rise in container adoption in general, prompted Evaluator Group to expand its focus beyond general IT management consultancy and into the container management space. Specifically, the analyst firm looks to guide clients toward the services and platforms that would best suit their requirements.

From a series of interviews with company executives to determine primary concerns and starting positions, Evaluator Group built an interactive tool called 2022 EvaluScale Insights for Container Management Systems for its clients to evaluate container management offerings based on the features they need most. The first iteration of the EvaluScale Insights tool includes comparisons for container management services and container management platforms.

“Over the past couple of years, there have been many requests from [our] subscribing enterprise customers asking us to provide more guidance, so the partners decided to actually invest more time and energy in the space,” Stow Lee said.

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