With the promise of easy migration of workloads from one cloud provider to another, container technology is quickly becoming a technology the channel cannot afford to ignore, solution providers said.
Brandon Ebken, chief technology officer at Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider Cardinal Solutions, said solution providers need to start adopting container skill sets and offerings or risk losing clients to competitors.
"If you're a managed service provider and you're not adopting containers today, your competitors are coming in [saying], 'We're adopting containers and improving our SLAs and delivery model,' and they're selling that to customers," said Ebken, during an executive session Sunday at XChange Solution Provider 2018. "Or there's a system integrator, like us, who’s coming in and talking to customers about, 'Here's how we're going to modernize your company in the public cloud.' And we're talking about containers and orchestrating from there."
There are a slew of service opportunities solution providers can build on container technology around application modernization, automation and improving continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) for customers. The technology's purpose is to significantly improve the complexities surrounding applications, processes and infrastructure, Ebken said.
[Related: XChange Solution Provider 2018]
Ebken said containers can now be characterized as a virtualized application, with the biggest market disruption coming from open-source container platform Kubernetes.
"Kubernetes is taking the whole industry by storm," said Ebken. "Every single person on our team delivering any type of IT services has to understand Kubernetes. Kubernetes has become the absolute critical foundation because it is the future for deploying applications."
Kubernetes is an open-source platform for the deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications. Originally launched by Google, other vendors like Microsoft and Red Hat have taken over Kubernetes leadership.
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Cardinal Solutions, who was named Microsoft's 2017 Worldwide Partner of The Year for Open Source on Azure, has been winning with Kubernetes for years. He said every single public cloud provider – from Amazon to IBM -- now has a native Kubernetes platform service.
One reason why the container technology has caught on so rapidly over the past 12 months is because it's easy to transition services from one vendor to another. "We're not locking ourselves into any one of these public cloud providers," said Ebken. "So if I start deploying something on the Google Kubernetes service, it's pretty easy for me to move those assets over to the Azure's Kubernetes service because it's all rooted in open source."
Stephen Evans, director of operations for the Orlando, Fla.-based solution provider APYL, attended the executive session and agreed with Ebken regarding how container technology, such as Kubernetes, is disrupting the industry at a rapid pace.
"How it orchestrates everything together, I don’t want to say it's necessary revolutionary, but it's definitely something that companies want because it helps them to have better uptime, a better product in the end, and better workflow," said Evans. "So instead of having a pain point, for example, like not having a testing environment, they can replicate that testing environment easy. They can deploy it in Google and others by the second."
Cardinal's Ebken said every type of solution provider needs to either adopt or accelerate their company's container strategy given its ability to easily package an application's code, configurations and dependencies into simple building blocks.
"Whether you’re a system integrator, MSP, ISV, whether you're focused on applications, data, infrastructure – this is a hot trend across every one of those," he said.