In the past few years, businesses have moved towards cloud-native operating models to help streamline operations and move away from costly infrastructure. When running applications in dynamic environments with Docker, Kubernetes, and other tooling, a container becomes the tool of choice as a consistent, atomic unit of packaging, deployment, and application management.
This sounds straightforward: build a new application, package it into containers, and scale elastically across the infrastructure of your choice. Then you can automatically update with new images as needed and focus more on solving problems for your end-users and customers.
However, organizations don’t work in vacuums. They’re part of a larger ecosystem of customers, partners, and open source communities, with unique cultures, existing processes, applications, and tooling investments in place. This adds new challenges and complexity for adopting cloud-native tools such as containers, Kubernetes, and other container schedulers.
When it comes to adopting containers, there are three consistent challenges we at GitHub see across organizations. These include:
- Containerizing and maintaining applications: Most organizations have existing applications and need to make the decision about whether to keep them as-is, or to place them in containers for an easier transition to the cloud. Even then, teams need to determine whether a single container for the application is appropriate (in a lift-and-shift motion to the cloud), or if more extensive work is needed to break it down into multiple services, delivered as a set of containers.
- Efficiently configuring and managing permissions: Adopting containers often translates to better collaboration for everyone in your organization. DevOps is now more than just core developers and IT operators. It includes release and infosec engineers, data scientists, QA, project managers, and other roles. But collaborating across multiple teams introduces new needs for configuring and managing permissions for code, along with the automation to support it.
- Standardizing best practices across the organization: Containers help teams scale and integrate quickly, but may also require updating your CI/CD practices to match. You have to validate they work well for existing applications, while incorporating the correct user and package permissions and policies. The best practices you set have to be flexible for others too. Individual teams—who are transitioning to new ways of working—need to be able to optimize for their own goals.