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How to Choose the Right Platform as a Service for Containerisation

Building your containerisation house with CaaS, FaaS and PaaS

Container stacks - containerisation

Bold organisations understand that speed, sustainability and innovation are enabled at scale by the cloud. If you’re leveraging the power of cloud-based platforms, it’s likely that your organisation is headed toward an application containerisation strategy. Companies on a cloud computing journey can seize inherent containerisation benefits through this type of architecture, such as portability and rapid enhancement delivery. In fact, Gartner expects that up to 15% of enterprise applications will run in a container environment by 2024. This is up more than 10% in 2020.

But once you’ve made the decision to go the containerisation route, there are critical choices to be made. One of the most important is choosing your underlying foundational technology—a platform as a service (PaaS)—to support containerisation.

Understand that groups within your organisation have different views of containerisation

Your organisation probably has a variety of teams, each with different goals and motivations that translate to unique perspectives on containerisation.

  1. Development teams typically don’t have a vested interest in an underlying technology, as long as the features support what they are trying to do. Development teams want to be able to write modular pieces of code and execute and test it on an ad hoc basis, such as using a function as a service (FaaS) solution. At the same time, developers want to test integrated code through a container as a service (CaaS) solution, and use a PaaS to simplify the build, run and testing of distributed microservices. A flexible PaaS helps speed development of code by automating and simplifying processes associated with code execution and testing.
  2. Operations teams want to spin up containers and keep the services running. They are most interested in specific CaaS functionalities, backed by a PaaS solution. Similarly, when it comes to function-based events, an operations team is most concerned with consistency, which an appropriate PaaS provides. The location of the function is a secondary consideration.
  3. For IT and infrastructure teams, the focus is on diversification across multiple clouds, operating in hybrid mode, or both. They need a PaaS solution that delivers the same deployment interface experience, regardless of whether it’s running in multiple geographical locations or multiple clouds. They don't want to have to rework code based on specific on-premises or public cloud requirements. For example, to enable pipelining, your infrastructure teams don’t want to be pigeonholed into using Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Microsoft Azure toolsets. Infrastructure teams are looking for a platform for CaaS that’s scalable, diversified and highly available.

Consider balancing priorities across the organisation to realise the most value from your application containerisation strategy

As the owner of an overarching perspective for an organisation, a decision-maker needs to serve the needs of a variety of stakeholders. For example, an operations team needs to support containers for runtime purposes—they want a CaaS solution that is highly reliable and scalable. Simultaneously, a CTO is more focused on PaaS, as they manage the infrastructure that provides CaaS for application teams. A CTO also needs to support aspects such as availability, performance and geo-distribution on the containers, functions or both.

Leaders need to be responsive and bring products to market, and they are naturally influenced by the teams that they lead. When it comes to containerisation, it’s easy to be swayed by a development team, who above all wants to kick off code and rapidly execute. Developers may be attracted to a managed solution like Amazon EKS, which is easy to use and initially inexpensive.

However, some managed solutions have limitations that may not get you to production, such as compliance issues and regulatory considerations. Additionally, some solutions can constrain the business and create extra overhead when the needs of the business necessitate hybrid or multicloud environments. In these cases, a PaaS solution deployed across multiple clouds, on-premises or at the edge greatly simplifies the job of infrastructure teams and provides a consistent interface for DevOps teams. A common PaaS solution also simplifies the support experience, as the underlying infrastructure is handled by PaaS and customised infrastructure management is avoided.

The containerisation foundation is the key to creating a modernisation roadmap that takes your entire cloud ecosystem into consideration

When building a house, the foundation is one of the most consequential decisions you can make, as everything is built on top of it. The same bottom-up analogy applies to effective containerisation strategies.

Underlying foundational technology choices are critical—in this case, the best PaaS.

There are lots of PaaS options that address many different needs. Getting to the right solution requires careful consideration of underlying business challenges and needs across multiple teams and stakeholders, such as support for:

  • On-premises repositories
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Latency requirements
  • Local geography separation
  • Global distribution ingress
  • Common interfaces to simplify development and operations efforts
  • The ability for developers to trigger a function without worrying about the back end
  • Automated scaling for pods and nodes

How to choose the right PaaS for the best cloud experience will ultimately depend on your organisation’s specific needs and cloud ecosystem. But by carefully examining those factors, you’ll navigate through the infrastructure transformation with confidence.