With the rise of containers and microservices, a whole new ecosystem surrounding “cloud native” applications is starting to emerge. In fact, a new report from Codenvy produced in conjunction with The New Stack says venture capitalists have already poured more than $1.7 billion into this ecosystem.
The report identifies 104 projects from 67 different companies that are now making container-related products, and about of a third of those (35) came to market in the past year. Navigating this ecosystem, which spans everything from container infrastructure to continuous delivery platforms, is a fairly complex endeavor for most IT organizations.
For IT services providers, the rise of containers such as Docker in particular and microservices in general stands to have a profound impact. Initially positioned as a direct competitor to virtual machines, deployment of containers has turned out to be a much more nuanced affair. Containers can be deployed on bare metal servers as an alternative to virtual machines, but the majority of IT organizations still have security concerns when it comes to containers. In addition, most of them still don’t have dedicated container management frameworks in place, so it’s more practical for most IT organizations to deploy containers on top of virtual machines or in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment where they can make use of their existing tools to manage and secure those containers.
In the meantime, the debate over where containers will ultimately be run continues. As frameworks for managing containers such as Kubernetes mature, there is an expectation that more containers will wind up running on bare metal servers. But vendors such as VMware contend that most of these containers will be run on lighter-weight hypervisors that are now under development.
The true opportunity for IT service providers
As compelling as containers are, though, the major opportunity for IT services providers over the next decade will be the decomposition of existing backend applications into a more granular set of microservices. Developers are making it clear that they want to be able to dynamically compose applications that reuse backend services in a way that generates less application overhead. To accommodate that shift, IT organizations are deploying microservices that expose modular sets of functions that developers can invoke. Over time just about every major backend application service will be rewritten in a way that transforms it into a set of microservices.
In effect, containers and microservices are tantamount to a major re-engineering of enterprise IT as we now know it. In fact, Codenvy CEO Tyler Jewell notes that in terms of creating green field opportunities in the land of IT, the impact of microservices and containers will be unprecedented.
For IT services providers, those opportunities will span everything from existing public and private clouds to the Internet of Things (IoT)—assuming, of course, that MSPs have the foresight to start developing container and microservices expertise starting today. Without those skills, many IT service providers will increasingly find themselves shut out when it comes to being considered for major IT development projects.