Gotta say, if I were setting up a new application for use by off-site users (whether customers or employees), I’d lean toward cloud storage. In most cases, the costs are comparable, and the operational convenience can’t be beat.Plus, if you are at a startup, a monthly storage bill is easier to work with than a large initial outlay for on-site storage infrastructure.Case closed? No, not exactly. On-site still has some tricks up its sleeve. If your application servers are on-site, local storage is faster to access. If your users are within your own building or campus, you can keep everything within your local area network.(Related: Microsoft unveils cloud security software) Cloud-based storage is amazing. Simply amazing. That’s especially true when you are talking about data from end users that are accessing your applications via the public Internet.If you store data in your local data center, you have the best control over it. You can place it close to your application servers. You can amortize it as a long-term asset. You can see it, touch it and secure it—or at least, have full control over security.There’s a downside, of course, to maintaining your own on-site data storage: You have to back it up. You have to plan for disasters. You have to anticipate future capacity requirements through budgeting and advance purchases. You have to pay for the data center itself, including real estate, electricity, heating, cooling, racks and other infrastructure. Operationally you have to pipe that data to and from your remote end users through your own connections to the Internet or to cloud application servers.By contrast, cloud storage is very appealing. You pay only for what you use. You can hold service providers to service-level guarantees. You can pay the cloud provider to replicate the storage in various locations, so customers and end-users are closer to their data. You can pay for security, for backups, for disaster recovery provisions. And if you find that performance isn’t sufficient, you can migrate to another provider or order up a faster pipe. That’s a lot easier, cheaper and faster than ripping-and-replacing outdated storage racks in your own data center.
Naysayers said that the cloud wasn’t secure, wasn’t scalable or couldn’t provide high performance. But tech-savvy adopters built tools and processes to make the new technology work for them. Providers invested heavily in security, built massive datacenters and provided hardware bigger than many organizations ever bought for their onsite data centers. (Editor’s note: Data breaches are high profile and big news, but most are the result of human error, not inherent in cloud technology).For containers, the question is: will mainstream adoption take place six months or three years from now? It’s less a question of if, but rather a question of how quickly organizations will make containers the default choice for developing and deploying apps.Container adoption will lead more organizations to be cloud nativeOne of the most interesting aspects about the move to containers is how organizations choose to adapt legacy applications to container technology. Container software was first embraced by developers at the grassroots (or even guerrilla) level, while high-level leaders have been slower to understand its value. But with so many developers and operations teams seeing the benefits of containers first-hand, IT leaders will seek to broaden the value they provide to their organizations. They’ll get the most benefits from containers as part of a broader shift to cloud-native architectures. That means that instead of looking at containers as isolated tools, they’ll use them as part of a larger shift towards adoption of DevOps practices. This will drive a shift to running their enterprise apps like SaaS companies do, with emphasis on automation, resiliency and rapid updates.We’re living in a time of huge change for the way organizations build and run their apps — this requires patience and a knack for understanding what’s going to work best for your team, rather than just chasing the hot technology of the moment. The specific tools you choose are less important than the shift in strategy to continuous improvement as the default operating model. Once you take that assumption, it means you need to optimize for frequent updates, automation and scale. Containers are an enabling technology in this shift, but equally important is the people and process side. The organizations that are going to realize the benefits from these predictions are the ones that have the talent and coordination to realign themselves to this approach and to integrate these new technologies into their environments. Despite the fact that containers are still considered a new tool in the developer scene, they have already been put to work in industries everywhere: Financial services companies use containers to track credit scores and provide financial recommendations to their clients, government organizations use containers to model the effects of weapons and identify ways to protect soldiers, and healthcare companies use containers to process and visualize radiology data. Container usage has grown, but other factors will come into play before it becomes the de facto choice for every app in every organization. Here are three predictions on what the future holds for containers.Cloud-native development will become more commonplaceToday, developers increasingly write code in a “cloud-native” fashion, which usually translates into continuous delivery, continuous integration, microservices and the use of containers. Soon, we will not only see cloud-native development become commonplace, but I also wager that more than 50 percent of the new applications developed by the end of this year will be cloud-native apps. This also means enterprise software companies will have a big opportunity to speed up and streamline development via container usage. Not only can organizations using containers accelerate their dev processes, but they can actually improve their outcomes by making them more secure and scalable. As the Marc Andreessen quote goes, “Software is eating the world” — and containers are the plates it’s served on.Containers will become the default choiceWe often say that containers today are where virtualization was in 2002 and cloud was in 2010. Just as virtualization and cloud capabilities have replaced physical servers and onsite datacenters, one day container usage will be just as logical.