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Ten hot tips on IT containerization

Container technology didn't sit still in 2017, with maturing platforms and orchestration tools. Now more than ever, it's time to learn how to deploy containers at scale.

If your New Year's resolution is to deploy containers in production, spend the holiday lull reading the most helpful and influential tips from experts and IT pros who have been through the IT containerization process.

These top 10 articles on Docker, Kubernetes and other container technologies from 2017, presented in no particular order, include tutorials on clustering and networking, evaluations of top cloud providers, and help on the command line. There's also advice from IT containerization veterans on management platforms, legacy app migration into containers and a cutting-edge approach to multi-cloud.

1. Docker networking choices

Docker containerization is easy; connecting those containers to the rest of the world is where things get tricky. Consider the communication demands of distributed applications, across containers and hosts, and how users and other applications will access these containers. An understanding of the app design forms the basis to choose from Docker's bridge, host and none models.

2. At-scale production deployments

IT containerization for large or complex workloads requires the aid of orchestration and cluster-based deployment. Orchestration tools take individual container management out of the administrator's hands. With an understanding of how clustering tools work, IT organizations can load-balance, monitor and scale containerized applications.

3. A management tool for the long haul

Docker, Kubernetes and other cluster management and orchestration tools each have pros and cons for IT containerization. Companies new and old are picking up these tools and sharing how they work. Ease of use, dynamic capabilities, cloud tie-in and other factors influence the choice.

4. Command-line control

Docker commands give administrators fine control over container deployment, changes and removal, as needed. Via the interface in Docker Engine, learn how to execute bash commands within a running Docker container, prune to recover resources, start and stop containers, pull log files and more. The more commands you know, the easier administration becomes.

5. As-a-service providers

With the rampant growth and maturity of IT containerization, providers have curated tool sets and capabilities that promise easier deployment, at the cost of tool choice. There are options from the major public cloud providers, such as Google and Amazon, to manage container deployments. Or, IT shops can evaluate Kubernetes-as-a-service options -- some of which are strongly tied to the public cloud, while others are not.

6. Old apps, new life

Cloud-native distributed applications naturally fit with container-based deployment strategies, but they're not the only option. IT containerization increases the portability and scalability of legacy applications. Visa, Northern Trust Corp. and other organizations share their experiences with this approach to app modernization.

7. Kubernetes abstraction layers

Containers can quickly get out of hand, with multiple related application components each in their own containers, different pieces scaling independently and so on. Kubernetes orchestration brings the administrator's involvement from the container level up to Pods and Nodes. Here's how they work.

8. Multi-cloud freedom

Docker containers reduce resource consumption on host machines, simplify app development and deployment, and isolate code on OSes. But the promise of app portability across multiple clouds has proven difficult to realize. Startup Alpha Vertex achieved multi-cloud containers with the help of Kubernetes.

9. Tried-and-tested in the enterprise

Production container deployments are increasingly common, and many enterprise shops face a choice between pure open source or supported, commercial products once containers leave project status and hit live servers. IT pros with long-running Kubernetes-based containerized applications share their thoughts on CoreOS Tectonic, Rancher and other tools, as well as the capabilities that containers unlock.

10. Alternative container types

Docker fits most application containerization strategies, but there are different container technologies designed for other purposes. Security and Linux integration launch rkt into enterprise deployments, while the LXC and LXD IT containerization technology brings isolation to the system level.

This was last published in December 2017

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