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Containers as a software artifact used in applications may have finally crossed the proverbial chasm of adoption. A report published by JFrog, a provider of a platforms for building and deploying applications, based on analysis of how more than 7,000 organizations are constructing applications, finds there are now more than 1.3 million repositories that contain this type of artifact. As such, it’s now only a matter of time before more container-based applications begin showing up in production environments that are becoming more complex to manage.

Challenges still prevent widespread adoption

It’s been nearly a decade since the first containers were released. One of the primary reasons so many organizations have embraced containers to build microservices-based applications is that they provide a better way to isolate the management of software written in different programming languages. Not only can developers more easily add functionality to an application by ripping and replacing containers, but they can also similarly swap in an entire microservice to expand the capabilities of an application.

Today it’s estimated there are roughly 20 million developers that can build applications using containers. Yet, there is still much work to be done to make containers more accessible to the average developer. With nearly 50 million developers of corporate applications, it’s clear they are still not as widely accessible as they should be. The primary reason for this is that many of the application development platforms being used to build applications with containers still don’t abstract away enough of the underlying complexity.

At the same time, the management platforms used to orchestrate containers are also still challenging to administer. In fact, it does not always follow that an organization that embraces containers is even going to adopt a platform such as Kubernetes to manage them. Many organizations that are building and deploying microservices-based applications on Kubernetes clusters may actually need to revisit the platform being employed simply because it often turns out that another platform based on a serverless computing framework might be a better fit for purpose.

Complex application environments bode well for MSPs

None of this means that there won’t be a lot of containerized applications to manage. It’s clear, though, that instead of replacing existing application architecture, many modern applications will be running alongside legacy monolithic applications running on traditional virtual machines for years to come. In effect, application environments are becoming more complex to manage with each passing day. Obviously, that bodes well for managed service providers (MSPs) in an era when many internal IT organizations lack the skills required to manage applications built on divergent architectures.

It may be a little while before there is enough of a critical mass of modern applications to force a larger conversation about the way IT is currently managed within many organizations, but a crisis is clearly brewing. MSPs that have the skills needed to manage legacy and modern applications are going to be a lot more relevant to potential customers than those that are more narrowly focused. The challenge and opportunity, of course, is investing in training today to ensure providers of managed services remain relevant tomorrow.

Photo: a-image / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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