If your organization is still dealing with the provisioning headaches of traditional VM architecture, it’s probably time to make the switch to containers.
But while containerized architecture can certainly solve many agility and efficiency issues, you’ll also need to adapt your organization’s operations around containers’ unique challenges. Here are the key operational issues to keep an eye out for as you make the switch to containerized architecture:
Unlike a traditional VM, a containerized architecture like Docker uses an IP-subnetwork model to connect components of deployed applications to specific subnetworks. Although this model does use basic virtual switching, its lack of a formal management framework means connections may be constructed in inefficient ways without any centralized oversight.
What’s more, this subnetwork model may not fit smoothly with the ways in which your users connect to your applications – or with the IP network you use internally. In order to keep data routing efficient within this IP-subnetwork architecture, it’s crucial to use software-defined networking (SDN) to provide an architecture on which your Docker deployment can coordinate network building.
In the world of network security, controls for containerized applications are lagging behind – perhaps inevitably given the highly distributed, fast-changing nature of container architecture. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that a breach of any container is equivalent to a breach of the host system, which uses the same namespace.
This means it’s essential to set organizational priorities around the tight control of image verification, storage of private information, and user access rights. Container images should only be downloaded by authorized personnel, and secrets such as usernames and passwords should be stored in encrypted files, never embedded in the container image itself. And since most ordinary tasks can be handled by non-root users, root access should be restricted to only a few special cases.
Although the fast pace of technological change requires IT to be one of the most forward-thinking departments in any organization, it’s hard even for seasoned IT ops professionals to keep up with the fast-moving world of containerized apps, architectures and deployment standards. If you’re working within a large, established organization, the challenge of updating internal processes for container adoption can be a daunting one.
In order to adapt your organization’s operational structure to deal with the highly distributed, constantly evolving nature of container platforms, it’s important to push for a minimal number of layers of oversight so containers can quickly be put into production in a more automated way. And though this may be a hard sell, upper management is going to have to say goodbye to the security of standardization. From now on, departmental objectives need to focus around operational flexibility in order to turn user feedback into app stability.
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