Containers: Future of the Cloud? – an interview with Julian Hansert

Container technologies are regarded as powerful tools to address the challenge of increasing IT infrastructures requirements. What is their great potential, are there any trends, and, more importantly, who benefits from this innovative cloud architecture? We spoke with Julian Hansert, co-founder of IT startup Loodse and host of the ContainerDays conference, which debuted this summer in Hamburg.

Container technology is a trending topic. Can you give us a brief summary of what it’s all about?

The demands customers have for company websites is always growing. To stay ahead of the competition, website-owners must offer visitors new features and updates on a regular basis. At the same time, there is very limited leeway for maintenance downtime and malfunctions. In addition, temporal load peaks such as those during holiday business cause this high pressure. For all these reasons, companies need an increasingly agile and flexible IT infrastructure. Traditional infrastructures are no longer sufficient under these conditions. Cloud-native-technologies enable users to transfer applications to the cloud and this is where containers come into play.

Containers provide an isolated environment for the execution of processes, meaning they “wrap” applications for their use in the cloud. The special thing here is that several containers use a “Shared Operating System.” Thanks to this system, containers can be managed quite easily and efficiently. Container and clusters provide businesses with a new, cloud-based IT infrastructure that is much leaner and more efficient, but at the same time allows for maximum flexibility and adaptability.

Who can benefit most from this technology? Are there special-use cases that benefit from containers?

Generally speaking, all enterprises that depend on web-based reactive and interactive applications, or have to process large amounts of data can benefit from container technology—a very good example is e-commerce. Besides this sector, there are countless use-cases for container technology, from big data analysis to the optimization of internal processes. For example, ING, one of the ten largest finance service providers worldwide, uses Docker containers to offer a faster and better customer service. Moreover, an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies in the US including healthcare, pharma and insurance industries are switching to containers. This trend will also pave the way for businesses in Europe.

Are there any recent trends within the container movement? What might future developments be?

I have so far observed three trends:

  1. The competition among providers of container and orchestration tools has become much tougher in the last couple of months, which proves the technology’s potential. In addition, this highly competitive environment will enable extremely high rates of innovation in the container field. Exciting times are ahead of us!
  2. Presently, future-oriented online retailers such as eBay rely on container technologies. I’m expecting containers to establish themselves very quickly as a standard technology in e-commerce, which will be gradually followed by other sectors.
  3. As containers have been a hot topic in the US for some time now, this trend will find its way to Europe too. Zalando, Otto and SIXT are among the first German companies that switched their IT to container systems in parts. The European industry will further expand and look to technology to enable this growth in the coming years.

Until now, container infrastructures have been a rather niche phenomenon, of interest to only a small number of IT professionals. Does your new event “ContainerDays” mark the start of a fresh initiative to make this cloud technology accessible to a broader audience?

The ContainerDays in June were definitely an important milestone. The speaker portfolio of the first edition of ContainerDays this summer featured representatives of 1&1, Zalando, Google and SoundCloud, showing very clearly that IT container technology is no longer a niche topic.

Nevertheless, it’s correct to say that to date, only IT-focused, innovative enterprises are interested in containers – this should and will change. With ContainerDays we created a necessary central platform for Europe to make this future technology’s benefits more accessible to a broader audience.

Julian Hansert
Co-founder, Loodse

Julian Hansert is co-founder of Loodse, a startup located in Hamburg, Germany, which consults and supports enterprises on the deployment of container and cluster technologies. Julian Hansert and his partner hosted the first edition of the ContainerDays on June 27 and 28, 2016 in Hamburg. Prior to Loodse, he worked several years as an Account Manager for EMC, the worldwide leading IT enterprise for data storage in Munich.

Images: / chrishoefliger; ContainerDays

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