Luis Herrera, CTO and co-founder of Antelops, is the first official Docker consulting and training partner in Spain. Former googler and vmare, this computer engineer has experience in professional services and implementing solutions in complex environments all over the world. Herrera talks a bit more about the container world of Docker.
1. How has Docker changed the development world over the last three years?
Over the last three years, Docker has gone from being a little-known technology to becoming one of the most popular technology companies on the planet. And this has happened because Docker has brought fundamental changes to the way we build, deploy and distribute software. With the aim of “creating tools for mass innovation”, it has removed the barriers to both creating quicker and better quality software and to facilitating its exploitation.
Docker has contributed a lot to the development world and this includes creating portable application packaging which eliminates the differences between development and production. Docker is growing in parallel with other trends such as agile methods, DevOps culture, applications based on microservices, etc. And all of these are accelerating innovation in software development and deployment at an unheard-of pace.
2. What are the main differences between a Docker container and a virtual machine?
They are often compared, perhaps because containers seem to be a “light” version of virtual machines. However, they are different. In fact, containers and virtual machines seek to solve two different problems. Initially, virtual machines were intended to solve a problem with service use. Mostly, they abstract hardware from the operating system and create a separate environment for operating systems and applications. Consequently, it is possible to consolidate “many” virtual machines in a single physical server.
In turn, containers aim to abstract applications from the operating system. They aim to make applications more portable. If we compare them though, containers can be more efficient than virtual machines at one or several levels: they start in fractions of a second rather than minutes; they take up MB rather than GB on the disk; and the same workstation can run 10 or 100 times more containers than virtual machines. However, you can –and it may be desirable to– deploy containers in virtual machines.
3. Do think a PaaS-based business model is an advantage for digital business transformation?
Yes and no. Digital business transformation goes beyond technological change. It involves changes in mentality which are sometimes subtle and other times deep; only then can we make the most of Platform as a Service (PaaS) in digital transformation. So, paradoxically, PaaS may slow down rather than expedite innovation if the necessary cultural and organizational changes do not take place.
There is a lot of public PaaS but startups are the ones that are really leveraging this model. Consolidated companies are still wary of PaaS and, as such, they are building their own PaaS to avoid being tied down to a single provider. But this is a complex project and in most cases it doesn’t seem to be living up to the expectations of either development or exploitation teams. However, not all is lost. Containers offer a third option.
Instead of private PaaS, some companies are beginning to think of providing their teams with CaaS (Containers as a Service) since containers offer a better compromise between improved developer productivity and complex service implementation. Containers are more flexible when it comes to selecting and combining technology stacks without affecting the control required by exploitation teams. The main public cloud providers have already added CaaS to their service portfolio. I am sure that we will see many examples of CaaS being used in companies over the next few months and years.
4. What makes Docker so different that it attracts large companies such as Cisco, Sony or Harvard University?
Docker is helping these large companies be more agile and competitive and adopt the new digital mentality more easily. It may be that Docker is achieving success because it can be easily adopted and teams feel its benefits straight away. Thanks to the combination of Continuous Delivery of applications based on microservices which are run in Dock containers, these companies are seeing internal innovation growth at a pace which until now was only possible in consumer computing and mobile applications.
5. Which sectors are choosing this technology the most?
I would like to mention two sectors which are starting to adopt Docker for different reasons: the financial sector and the media. The media include companies such as Business Insider, New York Times or even the BBC. They all share the same problem: they publish hundreds of stories a day where the rate of change is important, and often they need to move new services to production very quickly. In all three cases, Docker has streamlined and expedited release to production of new applications and services.
In the financial world, companies are using Docker to become more agile and accelerate their innovation to compete against technology companies that are moving into the sector. There are companies such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, International Securities Exchange, ADP… and BBVA!
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