Container technology will radically change the way enterprise software, applications and infrastructure are deployed, in the same way virtualisation did a decade ago, according to Ergo’s Dave Muldoon, and organisations need to plan for it as quickly as possible. “We are going to need developers with these skills, because the speed and agility that containers offer is a game-changer,” he said.
Muldoon heads up the Managed People division in Ergo where he helps businesses find the IT professionals they need to run their systems and services. First-hand experience with resourcing the eHealth Ireland’s Lighthouse project for epilepsy care has convinced him that containers are the future of software.
“We are carrying out development work much more effectively by using Docker and Azure containers. There’s no physical infrastructure; we don’t even use virtual infrastructure. With containers you use common building blocks to spin up, scale out, and replicate quickly and easily,” he said.
By packing software inside single containers with all the services you need to run it, the code becomes easier to install and run on multiple platforms regardless of the environment. It’s a highly efficient use of resources because you build it once and can run it anywhere. Software developers write the code in the same they always did, but what’s changed is the speed at which you can provision, test and operate a new environment.
“Because you’re using common blocks and reusable tools, it’s all done in real time. The velocity at which you can do things is amazing,” said Muldoon.
The problem is that configuring and managing the containers is difficult and the skills needed to do it effectively are in short supply. It requires a new kind of IT professional with multidisciplinary capabilities.
“Traditionally, you would have separation; one group who were good at infrastructure, firewalls and networks, and the other group concentrated on software development. Now the lines are being blurred – people who can understand both disciplines are incredibly valuable because that’s what containerisation needs,” he explained.
Ergo’s resourcing practice is seeing increasing demand for containerisation skills as organisations start to understand the benefits. “Containers can transform the way teams of 20 or even 50 people work so instead of requesting an environment and waiting three or four days for it to be provisioned and checked, you’ll be able to get it instantly. It’s a very compelling proposition so competition for skills is already high,” said Muldoon.
The software-based infrastructure technology is a natural fit for the many Irish businesses that already run DevOps environments, where tools and practices are honed for agile development that delivers quick wins.
We have a number of high profile clients that are now looking to containers as the next phase of their DevOps strategy,” said Muldoon. “They see it as a way to compete and innovate more quickly and effectively in their markets.”
A lack of expertise in this relatively new field will only exacerbate a well-documented skills shortage. This is why Muldoon is urging software and infrastructure people to get up to speed with the technology. It helps that his Managed People practice is part of an IT services company that positions itself on the edge of leading technologies and principles.
“What sets us apart is our willingness to explore new areas of innovation; we have done it ourselves as a company, and we make sure the same attribute plays a core role in how we assess our clients’ needs. Our candidates are screened by experts in the field who can challenge them with technical questions and get a deep insight into their abilities. So if someone applies for the position of a technical architect, a technical architect will interview them,” he said.
It’s incumbent on companies to fully understand new technology, according to Muldoon, and know where it aligns with client roadmaps. “I’d question how recruiters who don’t have solution architecture in their DNA – in the way we do at Ergo – are able to measure, screen or assess the skill capabilities of candidates. I don’t think it’s possible; they’re skimming the surface of what’s required and that’s going to be a problem as we enter this new era,” he warned.
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