Skytap launches new container management solution

Containers—the choice of a new generation. And Skytap wants to be there.

Skytap launches new container management solution
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It was only a handful of years ago that the only time the topic of containers came up were at obscure open source conferences or, more usually, when someone was looking for a place to put the bulk load of gourmet kale they’d just opened for their on-site employer-supplied kitchen. Containers were plastic things with lids and, while handy, didn’t generate much excitement.

But then Solomon Hykes, looking to pivot away from his ultimately unsuccessful platform as a service (PaaS) play, dotCloud, happened upon an existing technology that was in need of both some tech and some marketing luster. Docker (the project and the business) was borne, and Hykes went from being suave, motorcycle-jacket-wearing technologist to something of a playboy who was defining a new approach towards technology. (OK, playboy is a relative term. But given the dearth of sex symbols in the technology infrastructure space, Hykes will just have to do.)

Fast forward to today, and Docker (the company) has gained huge amounts of funding, while the eponymously named initiative has kicked of a storm of development and thinking about how containers can be applied to modern infrastructure. Existing PaaS offerings such as Cloud Foundry and OpenShift have been reworked and rebranded with a container-heavy emphasis, while newer platforms such as Kubernetes and Mesos have also demanded their portion of container cred. It seems that while doubts exist about the commercialization ability of some of these vendors, no one doubts that containers are the space to be working in.

And Skytap seems to have been listening to that particularly high-rotation track. The enterprise cloud company today launched its own container play, the not-so imaginatively named Skytap Container Management offering that promises to “accelerate application modernization by enabling IT organizations to develop, deploy and run traditional enterprise and containerized applications together in Skytap's cloud.”

That’s a mouthful, so what does it actually mean?

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, given Skytap offers its own cloud platform, this additional offering sees organizations gain the ability to run both their traditional applications and their more forward-looking, container-based ones within a single cloud.

Skytap seems to be leveraging Gartner’s high-profile (and, it must be said, highly contentious) “Bimodal IT” theme, which sees a dual approach towards existing and newer applications. So, what are the specific technical value propositions Skytap believes will make this offering compelling? From the horse’s mouth: 

  • Unified management: Skytap Container Management gives development and operations teams complete visibility and control over container workloads. Users can leverage Skytap’s self-service, blended environments to clone, suspend, resume and share these mixed environments in seconds. This unified approach to managing traditional enterprise and containerized applications provides full transparency from initial build through to production deployments.
  • Heterogeneous integration: Skytap’s open approach to containers gives customers complete freedom to change and evolve IT architectural strategy over time. Skytap Container Management integrates with everything from Docker Swarm to Kubernetes, allowing customers to choose their preferred container tooling and avoid vendor lock-in.
  • Full control over containers: Skytap’s easily configurable container hosts allow IT teams to ensure environments throughout the software development lifecycle match the same OS, patch level, virtual hardware settings (CPUs, RAM, disk), and container runtime versions that run in production.

My POV

I get that a hybrid approach is a logical step for organizations with existing workloads and a desire to move faster, but to be honest, I’m unsure how many of those customers will have a preference towards Skytap instead of (for example) a split container/VM build on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or any of the other bigger cloud platforms. And for those who want a privately hosted solution, well, OpenStack is there to clip that ticket.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s a natural route for Skytap to go down. I’m just not convinced it's going to be a winning move for them.

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