Containerization is a key technology for enterprises that need to frequently transport critical applications between different environments and operating systems. To maintain operations, they have to launch and move those applications within a short time frame. The technology gives businesses a more flexible application infrastructure.
Enterprises are adopting containerization to improve their ability to move workloads, while technology infrastructure vendors recognize the value of rapid deployment and are adding container solutions to their lineup.
Enterprise Storage Forum interviewed Stu Miniman — director of market insights at Red Hat— who shares his perspective on the containerization market and the needs facing container providers and buyers:
Stu Miniman is also the host of the Red Hat live-streaming show “In The Clouds.” He is a former cloud analyst who interviewed thousands as a host of “theCUBE.”
The containerization market
Enterprise Storage Forum: How did you first start working in the containerization market?
Miniman: I was an analyst covering cloud and data center technologies and started covering Docker rather early. I first interviewed Docker founder Solomon Hykes on “theCUBE” at Red Hat Summit 2014. I followed the emergence of Kubernetes and the growth of the cloud-native ecosystem, and this directly led to me joining Red Hat in 2020.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is your favorite thing about working at Red Hat?
Miniman: Red Hat’s partnership with the open-source community and partners is one of the things that drew me to the company. I get to help customers with their cloud strategy and overall adoption of modern architectures and processes.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What sets Red Hat’s approach to containerization apart from the competition?
Miniman: While every company in the containerization space is talking about hybrid environments and open source, Red Hat’s depth of experience across data centers, a wide selection of hyperscale environments, and edge computing is unmatched, as is the commitment and leadership in open source. Kubernetes is not just a feature of a cloud or by itself a platform; Red Hat has worked with thousands of customers for many years to create a highly differentiated solution to meet the needs of enterprise applications running container-based solutions in production.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one key containerization technology that particularly interests you?
Miniman: We are still in the “Cambrian explosion” phase of containerization; there are regularly new open-source projects and tools available to add to the environment. The innovation of the ecosystem is great to see from a technologist perspective. Yet, there is the paradox of choice in that no one can keep up with learning about all of the new pieces. It is therefore challenging to know which pieces you should consider adopting.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one containerization technique that teams should implement?
Miniman: There are so many useful tools in the container ecosystem — one that has seen strong initial adoption over the last year is GitOps. GitOps helps the automation and standardization of deployments, which also supports governance and security requirements.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one containerization strategy that companies should implement?
Miniman: Broadly speaking, DevSecOps is a strategy which strongly supports containerization initiatives and can help bring together the requirements of development, operations, and security teams.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is the biggest containerization mistake you see enterprises making?
Miniman: Customers cannot have a “Field of Dreams” mentality — if you build it (a container platform), they (your developers and applications) may not come. Infrastructure exists to support applications and data — the proper constituents should be included in architectural discussions and adoption plans.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What are some current trends in the containerization market that are promising?
Miniman: The blurring of lines between serverless (which helps developers not need to think about infrastructure) and containerization has been a positive trend. The maturation of the Knative project as well as product announcements from public cloud providers gives a spectrum of offerings, including container-based solutions that meet the developer requirements, which were at first only available in proprietary cloud solutions, such as AWS Lambda and Azure Functions.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What are the biggest factors that are driving change in containerization?
Miniman: As customers mature their usage of containers, there can be a challenge in having the resources to properly maintain the environment. Shifting to adopting more cloud services where the customer can consume services rather than build and maintain and platform is a significant shift.
Enterprise Storage Forum: How has containerization changed during your time in the market?
Miniman: Containerization saw a rapid maturation, solving many of the networking and storage limitations in less than five years that were similar to what we had seen in server virtualization (which took over a decade to resolve).
Enterprise Storage Forum: Where do you predict the containerization market will be 5 or 10 years from now?
Miniman: Containerization has already become the default deployment option in the public cloud and strong growth in the data center. Containers helped bring the atomic unit of IT closer to the application and over the next five years, this will help in the overall distributed architecture of environments. Paired with automation, containers allow for scale (small environments and large fleets) and stability.
Personnel in containerization
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one containerization technology your team wants containerization professionals to know?
Miniman: Red Hat has been working closely with the public cloud providers for many years. We have a deep relationship to be able to provide our container solution (Red Hat OpenShift) as a cloud service that is jointly sold and supported with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud, plus a Red Hat offering on Google Cloud. Supported by a global site reliability engineering (SRE) team, the Red Hat OpenShift cloud services provide an application development platform which allows customers to focus on their applications, which consume the platform rather than building and maintaining it.
Enterprise Storage Forum: If you could give one piece of advice to a containerization professional in the beginning of their career, what would it be?
Miniman: It’s interesting to hear “containerization professional”; in our careers, the technologies that we work with will change a lot. If you can have a “learn everything” rather than a “know everything” mindset, you will be able to adjust with the changing waves of technology. Be on the lookout for areas where you can reduce toil and look for ways that you can reduce or eliminate tasks through automation or the adoption of new processes.
Enterprise Storage Forum: With the shortage of tech talent, how is your team finding and retaining professionals to work in containerization?
Miniman: Finding, retaining, and optimizing talent is one of the biggest challenges for companies today. Internally at Red Hat, our culture and commitment to open source and collaboration is a strength that helps differentiate us as a place to work. Our offerings also help our partners and customers learn the skills that they need and includes cloud services where Red Hat and its partners can take on more of the burden, so that customers require less resources on the containerization technologies.
Enterprise Storage Forum: For the greatest business impact, what should containerization professionals be focusing on most in their roles?
Miniman: Containers are a tool to help respond to the needs of your business and customers in an agile way. Find ways to say yes to new requirements and understand the impact that your technology has on the business.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one of your top professional accomplishments?
Miniman: In my previous role as an analyst and video host for thousands of interviews, the feedback from the audience was very rewarding. I appreciated being able to help explain complex topics to a broad audience and had many that thanked me for the job that I did.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is your favorite part of working in the containerization market?
Miniman: There is no shortage of new things to learn, and while the pace of change can be a bit dizzying, the variety of activities in the space is exciting.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one of your favorite parts of the work week? How does it encourage or inspire you?
Miniman: I really enjoy talking to practitioners. The best way to really understand technology is to talk to the people that are using it, understanding what helps them, the challenges they have, and lessons learned. I really enjoy facilitating sharing between peers in our industry. It’s always great to hear about some of the transformational powers of technology.
Enterprise Storage Forum: Do you have a favorite way to recharge during the workday?
Miniman: I always enjoy catching up with peers in the industry to network and discuss the latest in technology.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What are your favorite hobbies or ways to spend time outside of work?
Miniman: Outside of work, cycling is my current hobby. I picked up a Peloton two years ago and have participated in a long charity bike ride (the Pan-Mass Challenge) for the last four years.
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