Docker is taking the development world by storm. Two out of every three companies who try Docker end up adopting it, which has led to a 30-percent increase in the adoption rate over the past year. Major companies such as PayPal, Sage and Spotify now rely on Docker as a core part of their enterprise, and it seems set to become the industry standard.
So how do you get your team to start taking advantage of Docker? What do you need to get ready? First, let’s get some of the basics out of the way …
What Is Docker?
You may already be familiar with the concepts behind Docker. It’s based on containerization, which is an alternative to using virtual machines and offers much greater resource efficiency than the VM approach. Containers are a package with everything an application needs to run, including all libraries and dependencies, so that there is no variation between environments.
The Docker platform is light, fast and well-supported, and is currently the most popular implementation of the containerization principle. But Docker isn’t just a development platform – it is a methodology and a whole new approach to the development cycle.
Why Move to Docker?
Organizations are choosing Docker for a number of reasons, including:
1. Docker streamlines the development pipeline
With containerization, there is no more “well, it works on my machine.” Containers are self-describing and portable, allowing a packaged application to run identically on any system with Docker installed. This makes collaboration much easier, improves the quality of testing and makes it easier to spot breakdowns in the pipeline. It also helps to drive collaboration and makes it easier to implement standards, especially among teams who don’t share a physical space.
2. Docker supports Agile and DevOps
Software methodologies in general are moving towards faster cycles, with trends such as continuous development bringing cycle times down to a matter of hours. Agile teams find that Docker makes it easier to pass completed modules between teams, keeping the development cycle flowing and allowing rapid response to change.
Engineering teams moving towards the DevOps model will use a lot more automation in their development cycle, especially the automation of testing. Docker provides some obvious benefits here, as automated test tools will provide more reliable results if working with a containerized application.
3. Easy deployment and rollback
Automated deployment is something else that engineering teams rely on more and more, especially in the continuous release model associated with DevOps. Containerized packages make this kind of deployment much more reliable.
Rollback is easier with containers, too. If there’s a sudden need to revert to a previous version, you can use a container image to do so in a reliable and predictable way. This is especially useful when there is an emergency, such as a vital service that falls over in the middle of the night.
4. Better resource management
It’s easy to monitor the resource usage of an individual container, plus you can set maximum limits for memory usage and create reservations for CPU usage. This makes it easier to manage systems with multiple containers running concurrently and avoids a constant competition for resources.
When you’re finished with an application, there’s no need to go through the OS clean-up process, which can often leave behind config files, reg entries and other detritus. Containers are managed through the Docker installation, so you follow Docker best practices to remove unwanted container images.
5. Cloud compatibility
All of the major cloud providers, including Amazon’s AWS and Google’s GCP, now offer support for Docker. Docker also supports on-premise development, which means that there is no barrier between working locally or with a cloud service.
This offers a great deal of scalability to any project and makes projects easily portable. It’s also a sign that Docker is becoming the industry standard for containerization.
6. A reward for staff
As containerization becomes crucial to software development, your staff will find themselves increasingly keen to gain experience with Docker. Offering professional development of this kind is a form of professional development that’s crucial to retaining your best staff.
That’s on top of the immediate benefits of containerization. Collaboration improves, frustrating roadblocks are removed and everyone becomes more productive. Docker offers a new way to approach software development that allows your engineers to focus on delivering finished products rather than tinkering to get things working.
The key to long-term success with Docker is not to think of it as a useful tool to support existing processes. Docker, once adopted, is the process. Around it, everything else is built, including new methods for testing and deploying into production.
Having this kind of success requires buy-in from every member of the engineering team. As well as training in the platform itself, they need to be talked through the new methodology.
Everyone needs to understand what is expected of them, and they need to understand how Docker is going to help them reach a new level of excellence. Those who commit to learning the deep detail of Docker will find a rich and rewarding development experience.