Embracing a Containers Approach for Service Delivery

Imagine this scenario: All of your apps and data reside in the same easy-to-use system instead of your current siloed systems.

No, that isn’t a fantasy. A new way of doing business is emerging in the public sector and it’s called a container ecosystem. In GovLoop and Red Hat’s recent online training, Gov Embraces a New Approach to Application Delivery, during the GovLoop Government Innovators Virtual Summit, experts shared how agencies are deploying containers to improve efficiency, while keeping an eye toward the future.

Jamie Duncan, the Cloud Solutions Architect for Red Hat, and John Osborne, the Lead OpenShift Architect for Red Hat, spoke to how OpenShift, an innovative enterprise infrastructure management system from Red Hat, radically simplifies the day-to-day operation of deploying and maintaining large-scale applications.

So why should IT teams in the public sector be considering container ecosystems and OpenShift for their use?

First, it’s important to understand what a container is. In short, “it is a set of processes that are isolated from the rest of the system, running from a distinct image that provides all files necessary to support the processes. By providing an image that contains all of an application’s dependencies, it is portable and consistent as it moves from development, to testing, and finally to production.”

Containers help you make sure that your application has the necessary configurations (and files) so that you can move it from development, to test, to production, and amongst different environments that might have different configurations, so that nothing breaks or has to be rewritten.

More and more in government, large-scale applications are moving to hybrid and multicloud environments, and more organizations are choosing containers to easily build applications, deploy them, and move them across clouds and different environments. By abstracting applications from underlying resources, an infrastructure management system like OpenShift makes use of containers and helps developers and operators be more efficient and productive in delivering feature functionality.

Across sectors, containers are becoming the primary way applications are built and deployed. They’re one of those rare technologies that comes along and not only cuts operating costs, but also increases productivity. Containers also provide the flexibility to keep organizations from getting locked into any one technology.

Finally, with pressure to modernize legacy systems, do more with less, meet mandates, and keep up with new innovations, many in public sector IT are turning to DevOps for help. By employing a comprehensive platform for operationalizing containers, a container platform like Red Hat OpenShift enables public sector IT organizations to efficiently implement DevOps and reduce conflicts between development and operations teams.

In short, adapting containers and DevOps practices give developers the freedom to work on applications while operations can focus on the infrastructure.

One way to easily move to a container ecosystem is by using and deploying Red Hat’s OpenShift. OpenShift is RedHat’s cloud development platform-as-a-service (PaaS). The free and open source cloud-based platform allows developers to create, test and run their applications and deploy them to the cloud.

Kubernetes is the industry leading open source container orchestration framework, and is the beating heart of OpenShift. It has emerged as the leading open source container orchestrator and management project.

What can Kubernetes offer an IT team? Well, most production apps span multiple containers. Those containers must then be deployed across multiple server hosts. Kubernetes orchestration allows you to build application services that span multiple containers, schedule those containers across a cluster, scale those containers, and manage the health of those containers over time.

Additionally, Duncan and Osborne also discussed the fact that as the public sector considers deploying containers in production, they will still need enterprise-caliber persistent storage that’s scalable, secure, and container-aware. Containers are highly flexible and bring scale to how apps and storage are delivered; but traditional storage can be the bottleneck that stops this progress. The underlying storage should be highly elastic, easily provisioned by developers and admins, and, ideally, managed using the same orchestration framework (like Kubernetes) used for application containers. Kubernetes offers ability to orchestrate storage, allowing IT teams to run both stateless and stateful services in containers.

“Containers are how IT professionals will deliver more and more of their software in the coming years,” concluded Duncan. “The Kubernetes community works incredibly hard to ensure that delivery experience continues to improve for both creators and consumers. Red Hat is firmly established as a leader in those community efforts, and it’s only going to evolve more quickly and be more fun from here!”

Check out the rest of our coverage and insights from the 2018 Government Innovators Virtual Summit:

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