Lean, Mean and not a Virtual Machine

“Container? That’s just a VM right?”

― Anonymous


Containers: Beyond the tech (Part 1)


Thomas Shaw is a Build Engineer working at Demonware (Activision). Thomas is a #DockerCaptain, Docker Dublin Meetup organiser and founder of ShipItCon 2017. Tickets available now. Thomas studied Computer Science and Business Administration at Queens University Belfast. This post is based on Thomas’s own opinions and experiences.

Container? That’s a VM right?

The adoption of container based workflows across the industry has been phenomenal. From DNA analysis to gaming to trillion dollar financial systems, containerization is here to stay. However this post is not about the charactersitics of containers or their use cases.

Docker brought containers to the mainstream in 2013. Containers have been around for several years but Docker simplified the build, test, ship methodology to a point where a child could ship an application. Is Docker’s secret sauce simply simplification? While simplifying a complex workflow and freeing up time for value adding tasks shouldn’t be underestimated, there is much more to this adoption.

What’s the big deal?

If you are a developer or operator there are thousands of online resources for learning about containers. If you are a non-technical manager, curious about the endless “Docker, Docker,Docker” Koolaid jokes then you may struggle to grasp the magnitude of the move to containers. From experience most non-technical managers compare containers to VMs which is fine to get the conversation started. Discussing the best practices which containers encourage may be of more interest to non-technical managers.

Why has container adoption been so meteoric? Ignoring the underlying technology, was it just good timing? As we trundled through a global recession, cost cutting has been the norm for many organisations since 2007. Did the consolidation of services using containers contribute to container adoption? Definitely.

The next comment may not sit well with some. In the past 15 years, having worked in a few big companies, I’ve noticed one constant, our wastage. We are hugely wasteful as an industry. Over provisioning, over engineering, poor quality control, technical debt, the list goes on. What does this have to do with containers? We need to become more aligned with lean manufacturing methodologies used in other industries such as the automotive industry. Containers are the golden ticket to this alignment.

Part 2 of this post will look at Lean Manufacturing, Lean IT, value streams and containers.

To be continued …

Written on May 28, 2017