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Breaking the Shackles of Cloud Layers with Containers

Oct 1st, 2018 11:26am by
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Cloud Foundry sponsored this post.

Cloud services offering local data storage are extremely popular — particularly for companies in the financial industry and those with sensitive data to protect. The reasons for this range from financial sector requirements to fear of the unknown consequences of foreign laws regarding data security.

Swisscom Journey to the Cloud Offering

Christoph Flueckiger
In his role as marketing manager, Christoph is responsible for the product marketing and active promotion of the Swisscom cloud and outsourcing portfolio. He is an experienced marketing expert with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. In the past, he acquired strong experience in digital B2B marketing. Christoph holds an Executive MBA focused in marketing management and a Master of Arts from the University of Geneva.

As the largest telecommunications provider in Switzerland, Swisscom decided early on to offer cloud services in Switzerland with complete end-to-end integration and managed services to its customers.

The majority of customers require access to the cloud on the infrastructure as well as on the platform level, especially for those who are involved in the development of their own applications using the DevOps model.

Swisscom’s platform as a service (PaaS) relies on the open source solution of the Cloud Foundry Foundation. To meet various customer needs, a public offering is available, which comes with different service levels. For large companies, an enterprise version is on offer. Managed services support the customer in the use of high-availability platform solutions with data storage and redundancy in Switzerland.

But if the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environment is not quick or agile enough to be able to integrate applications from third-party software vendors, developers then have to complete the tasks themselves — this requires a huge effort and thus leaves less time for developing applications. More problems arise with PaaS if services aren’t available commercially by cloud providers or if third-party applications can’t be deployed fast enough. A container approach can bridge the gap between IaaS and PaaS for such use cases.

Containers Are the Future of the Hybrid Cloud

As industry analysts have predicted, the future is hybrid- and multicloud. Using container services based on Kubernetes, applications can be rapidly deployed into a wide range of different cloud environments. The high portability of containers makes it possible to seamlessly orchestrate applications, independently from the underlying platform or infrastructure.

How Can Containers Be Applied Intelligently in the Open Source Environment?

Making the shifting from the PaaS layer to containers may initially seem like a backward step from the agile and cloud native app development. This is because we are assigning developers the responsibility for managing infrastructure that they were previously free of with a PaaS solution. But there are other priorities to consider: If we need less restrictions and standardization than in a PaaS model or would like to also profit from application containerization for non-cloud native apps as well as run services which are not managed in the Swisscom Marketplace, containers provide the appropriate solution. With all of this, it is of utmost importance that the handling of the containers remains a simple process.

PaaS users, and thus application runtime users, are used to the simplicity of Cloud Foundry’s cf push command, allowing developers to automatically push code with a single click. While a similar command does not yet exist for adding or changing applications running on containers, we still strive, of course, to provide container services with a simple user interface (UI) and that are comparably simple to use.

Uptake of Container Use Versus Managed Services from the Marketplace

We heavily rely on PaaS, based on the open source version the  Cloud Foundry offers. In this way, we thus consume our own PaaS resources internally. We have experienced enormous growth in demand for our PaaS services, so we have successfully boosted our system resources to accommodate the surge in demand.

At the same time, we are also actively developing solutions for our customers and in-house requirements. While we are already making some of the Marketplace services available in containers, we also need a solution for the multitude of services that are not yet available. It is critical that applications in container runtime and application runtime, as well as Marketplace services, are able to communicate and connect with each other. Depending on the workload and requirements, the most appropriate runtime or service is chosen as needed. For example, Twelve-Factor apps are most ideally suited to application runtime, while managed services can be activated and deployed through a simple “cf create-service.” Containers, by contrast, can address cases which are not available on PaaS, as previously described.

Cooperation with ISVs Is Key to Comprehensive App Integration

In the future, third-party software developers (ISVs) will offer software in containers or in groups of containers in the form of microservices. Customers can then integrate these into their environments. The ISV takes care of the development, enabling app deployment directly in the customer environment. The orchestration platform thus becomes the focus.

Swisscom will guarantee container runtime, managing and making it highly available by SLA. By taking responsibility for the Kubernetes lifecycle ourselves, customers are in turn able to concentrate on container orchestration. It is thus critical that kubectl and other native Kubernetes tools are made available.

Swisscom is currently at the proof of concept stage with internal and external customers. The need has thus been confirmed. In this way, we are bridging the gap that may previously have deterred customers from opting for our Cloud Foundry solution. Swisscom is working intensively on the service provider core capabilities of multitenancy and scalability.

The deployment of containers — whether in the IaaS or PaaS environment — completes the portfolio. There will be no more limitations; if we do not have it, it can easily be added.

Stay tuned and find out more at the Cloud Foundry Summit.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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