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How container and serverless tech is helping developers reach the market faster

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Container and serverless technologies are bringing many benefits to developers, like greater flexibility and mobility

First came the physical server; then, the virtual machine. Now, the developer ecosystem is fast adopting container and serverless computing.

A big challenge physical servers pose is their management, which virtualisation resolves, by emulating the real system, making management of different functions easier. Now, container and serverless computing are extrapolating the benefits to a new level, for developers.

A container is a single packaged unit of applications and all their dependencies, providing developers an isolated environment to run programs. It is lightweight and brings in increased mobility and flexibility, which translate into speed to market for the developer.

The most common form of virtualisation is for operating systems (OS). If there are multiple VMs, one needs to deploy multiple OS-es, which both tedious and results in a loss of space. The new trend of containers addresses these issues.

Containers catching on

Not surprisingly, adoption of containers is gaining momentum, with 49% of developers now using them, according to the fourth edition of ‘Currents’, a quarterly report on global trends in the developer ecosystem, brought out by DigitalOcean, a leading cloud platform provider.

“Containerising backend has helped our apps work seamlessly across all environments, from development to production,” says Abhay Nitin Pai, Co-Founder at Pepkit Media Pvt Ltd, which runs StepSetGo, a fitness startup in which cricketer Zaheer Khan has invested. “Release cycles have shortened drastically, helping us release features and bug fixes at a faster rate. With containers, we are assured of stability, security and simplicity in our system.”

The containerised elements have to work in a coordinated manner for a given application to work. The entire automated process of arranging, coordinating and managing the multiple computer systems and services, is referred to as ‘container orchestration’, and Kubernetes is one of those systems which is open source.

In May, DigitalOcean introduced its Kubernetes product. “Though containers have been around for five years, its adoption has really picked up in the last year,” says Prabhakar Jayakumar, Country Director, DigitalOcean India. “By focusing on Kubernetes for our first container offering, DigitalOcean will allow developers to concentrate on building impactful applications, allowing product to do the heavy-lifting around managing their container workloads.”

Prabhakar Jayakumar

Prabhakar Jayakumar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Deepak Kumar Naik, Senior System Engineer, Vitalpointz Networks India Pvt Ltd, says that container technology has made it easier for them to deploy their IoT platform in any public or private cloud, and it allows the team to work with more agility. “Additional advantages are scalability, portability, supporting continuous deployment and security that makes the PaaS truly ready for any kind of work load.”

Next level of abstraction

Serverless computing is another trend, which is in its early stages of adoption among developers. ‘Serverless’ is a misnomer. The name has come about because the developer need not manage the server infrastructure, which is done by a third-party provider.

“This is the next level of abstraction where you don’t even have to configure your container,” says Prabhakar Jayakumar. “If a developer is working on something new, they explore the serverless route, since they anyway start from ground up and it comes with a lot of benefits. However, for existing applications, we are seeing a lot more adoption of containers. Because it gives them a lot of flexibility.”

Developers in India are slightly ahead of the rest. Globally, only a third of the developers have deployed applications in a serverless environment, but 43% of developers in India have done so, says the study, which sought views on niche developer technologies from about 5,000 respondents globally.

Tarun Mangukiya, Co-Founder at Iconscout.com, says, “We are processing thousands of images every day. Going serverless, it became incredibly easy for us to develop functions and integrate them into our applications. I was able to get started in minutes and deploy in seconds. It increased our processing speed to 4x.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 2:01:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/build-once-take-it-anywhere/article25027324.ece

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