How To Choose A Container Management Platform Ashley Halsey June 25, 2020 Containers and clusters are like tattoos; it’s hard to stop at just one. You start off experimenting, but soon you’re stringing a host of them together, deploying and managing them simultaneously. However, unlike tattoos, containers need constant management if they’re going to keep working the way you want them to. That’s where a container management platform comes in. Container management platforms are software tools that give you enhanced abilities to run multiple containers over a long period of time. As well as managing containers, they allow you to migrate your applications between environments, boosting their reach and effectiveness. If you’re looking into containers seriously, a container management platform is the only way to go. Container Management Options Container management platforms are numerous and complex, but they can be divided into three main categories: open-source, hosted, and enterprise platforms. Open-source Perhaps the simplest and more bare-bones option, an open-source container platform, is your best bet if you really want to take advantage of all container management features. However, the flexibility of being able to make the platform work exactly how you want to comes at a price: you have to do a lot more work to keep it running. Support, maintenance, integration, and configuration are all down to you but are free to run them in your own unique way. Kubernetes is the most well-known open-source container management platform, but other examples include Docker Swarm and Rancher. Hosted A hosted offering might be for you if you’re willing to give up some autonomy for a more supported environment. There are a great many cloud computing companies that offer hosted management services to run containers on, providing you with a fast track to cluster management. Unlike in open source systems, most of the management specifics are taken care of by the host company, which means less flexibility but equally less to worry about. Major hosted services include Google Kubernetes Engine, Amazon Kubernetes Service, and Azure Kubernetes Services. Enterprise Your third option when it comes to container platforms is enterprise platforms. These go one step further to remove the complexity out of construction. Enterprise platforms come with pre-packaged components that aren’t available in your regular open-source project or are usually only achievable with hours of grunt work. These services, like container registry, service mesh, security, or telemetry, contribute value to your cluster and are easily available through enterprise packages. Examples of such packages are Red Hat OpenShift, Docker Enterprise Edition, and IBM Cloud Private. What to Look for in a Container Management Platform Knowing what kind of container management platform will somewhat narrow the field, but there will still be a whole range of options for you to choose from in each of these directions. Here are a few things to consider when picking your container management platform. Production Ready When it comes to open-source container platforms, their flexibility and variety can sometimes be a hindrance. All of that variability must be controlled with complex configurations and mounds of resources, taking time away from other parts of your development. That’s why you should look for a CMP that’s production-ready: set with automated features you don’t need to configure yourself. “Automation is your friend in this area,” says Tomina Perty, a developer at DraftBeyond and Researchpapersuk. “Find a CMP that offers automated backup, restoration, and recovery so that you don’t need to think about configuring these essential elements. These features contribute to a more scalable platform that can grow with your cluster.” Future Proof Cloud computing and software is expanding every year, with new innovations and competing systems emerging all the time. If you don’t plan ahead, your system may end up left behind in the dust of technological innovation. Try and look at the growing trends in cloud computing to predict where the industry might be moving, and find a CMP that will help you get there. One major current trend is multi-cloud strategy. More than 30% of businesses are already working with multiple cloud options, some as many as four different services. For that reason, a platform that has the ability to build infrastructure between clouds is a good bet for a future proof choice. Raw Data Translator The raw data your cluster produces contains all you need to know to manage it successfully, but that’s not much use if you can’t understand the raw data. With that knowledge, you can detect disasters long before they’ve happened and avoid the problem; without it, you might receive more than your fair share of nasty surprises. Kirsty Docherty, an IT expert at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting, explains that “this doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in reading the data, but rather choose a platform that can translate the data for you. Platforms with automated monitoring, early alert systems, and status updates can do all the work of analyzing the data without any of the hassle.” Help When You Need It With all of this complexity, it helps to know someone is there to support you when you’re struggling. Make sure the platform you go for has a dedicated support system to help you out when unforeseen challenges arise. Essential in evaluating a support system is looking at the hours and methods of communication; it’s all well and good having a dedicated team of customer service representatives, but if they’re only available for a few hours a day you’re likely to get stuck in the off hours with no one to help. Conclusion This guide is designed to get you started on your container management journey. There are a lot of decisions to be made before you even settle on a platform, all of which will inform what direction you go in. It’s important that all of these decisions come from the services you want to provide: go for a platform that will legitimately enhance your work. Keeping your methodology at the center of your platform decisions will make sure they always serve a legitimate purpose.