Article

Embracing the future with Docker and DevOps for AWS instances

Cloud computing has evolved over the years. Now, enterprises are doing everything in the cloud from deploying business-critical applications to completing cloud backup processes to using hosted PBX solutions. At this point, many organizations have found their place in the cloud and are sticking to the current functionality that it offers businesses and employees.

However, as the great Wayne Gretzky once said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." This quote can be applied to the current use states of the cloud for the average business. Organizations that adopt new solutions and predict the future of cloud technologies will not only become more competitive, but they will be portrayed as leaders in their respective industries.

The idea of being ahead of the curve is especially true for small and medium-size businesses that really need to set themselves apart from the crowd. To do so, they will have to keep an eye on cutting-edge innovations in their fields, as well as in technology. After implementing Amazon Web Services, moving unified communications to the cloud and establishing a direct connection to their AWS solutions, what step can they take next? They can consider integrating two innovative offerings into their cloud environment: Docker and DevOps.

Docker
This cutting-edge tool is an alternative to the typical virtualized machine running on a hypervisor inside AWS's Elastic Compute Cloud. Back in April, AWS upgraded Elastic Beanstalk to work with Docker, and since then organizations have been intrigued by the idea, but few have completely committed.

Docker works a bit differently compared to the way AWS virtualizes an entire machine. Instead, Docker virtualizes an environment existing within a physical or virtual machine. According to TechTarget, several Docker images can run inside a single container on one machine. Docker then allows IT professionals to configure CPU, random access memory and storage space on an image by image basis.

With Docker, organizations can run more than one application on just one virtual machine without them sharing computing resources. Essentially, IT teams decide which percentage of the machine's RAM and CPU are devoted to each applications. However, if that one application is not being used, the resources that it is comprised of cannot be shared with other programs.

The best advantage to using Docker instead of traditional AWS virtual machines is that configuring Docker Containers is more simple than other methods. Once a container is imaged, it can be deployed across EC2 instances without any configuration problems, according to TechTarget. This will not only reduce costs associated with managing AWS and EC2, but it also provides IT departments with less work to do, enabling them to focus on business functionality.

If this sounds great, it is because Docker is valuable in specific ways. However, to run Docker in EC2 instances, recent studies have shown that it is more expensive. TechTarget ran a comparison of prices and found that four typical instances in AWS cost $0.22 all together, while running a single Docker instance can reach $0.56 and it will only have half the amount of disk space available per application. This should not scare off any organizations despite the Docker price tag being just more than double the AWS one. Running Docker in an AWS instance is a long-term revenue-saver and it helps IT teams out tremendously when it comes to imaging operating systems.

DevOps
This IT strategy was built with cloud computing in mind. Additionally, AWS announced that it will support a new DevOps Engineer Certification exam, which will help organizations determine the technical expertise of software architects, developers and solution providers as they provision, manage and operate applications in AWS, CRN reported.

What is DevOps? Well, it is essentially, like the name suggests, a merging of development and operations when it comes to software creation and deployment across companies. The software development technique can benefit businesses working on internal applications. Development teams will begin working a project, and once the program is in a semi-functional state, it is released to employees. Operations then helps support the applications, sending feedback to the development team as they seek to improve the hosted software.

What does this have to do with AWS? Well, AWS now supports two offerings that will assist the DevOps process: CloudFormation and OpWorks. CloudFormation allows organizations to customize application and infrastructure settings with an AWS resource template, CloudTech reported. This reduced the time necessary to bring applications to employees and assists IT teams as they deploy the programs across the cloud environment.

OpWorks, on the other hand, absorbs an application's configuration requirements and source code repository and generates executable artifacts, CloudTech explained. Then, automatically, the executables are deployed to the production environment. This will make the release cycle of application shorter, as well as allow IT teams to implement changes with efficiency and frequency.

Cutting-edge technology might seem like a threat, but when used correctly, Docker and DevOps techniques can effectively transform cloud environments.

John Grady is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at XO Communications, which is responsible for marketing the XO Cloud and XO Connect product portfolios. John has been responsible for launching a number of products at XO Communications, including 100G service, new cloud products, as well as XO's Intelligent WAN solution.

Embracing the future with Docker and DevOps for AWS instances