Accenture and Docker Team on Container Services

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By Jack M. Germain
Mar 15, 2017 11:51 AM PT

Accenture and Docker on Wednesday announced an expanded global alliance and the availability of container services within the Accenture Cloud Factory.

The new services provide a faster industrialized on-ramp solution for enterprises moving to the cloud. They focus on container enablement of applications and feature use of Docker Datacenter (Enterprise Edition – Standard).

Docker Datacenter is an integrated container management platform for development and IT operations that brings security, policy and controls to the software delivery lifecycle. It is supported by a global network of certified Accenture DevOps and cloud migration consultants.

Accenture and Docker have agreed to collaborate on developing migration accelerators and best practices for enterprise clients adopting containers. Their goal is to reduce risk and costs while migrating business-critical applications to the cloud.

Accenture has expanded its relationship with Docker to enhance its existing multicloud Container as a Service solutions. The company will leverage Docker Datacenter to provide enterprises with the capabilities needed to secure the software supply chain, expand workload portability, and improve application resilience.

Docker stands to gain significantly from the alliance, given the size of Accenture’s client base for its Cloud Factory and Cloud First solutions. Accenture has more than 20,000 projects, with three-quarters from Fortune 500 firms, according to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“The deal is likely to provide a significant boost for Docker’s business. Accenture has long been a major force in IT consulting, so it is easy to see how supporting Docker’s container and container management solutions will help extend the opportunities for those technologies among Accenture’s client base,” he told LinuxInsider.

Caveats about the deal are similar to any proprietary technology. Engaging often is easier than disengaging, King noted.

“Interested companies should make certain they understand, want and need what Accenture and Docker are offering before they sign on the dotted line,” he said.

Deal Details

Some 70 percent of a typical corporation’s global transactions run on legacy applications created for a different era, according to Adam Burden, senior managing director of advanced technology and architecture at Accenture. That can complicate the migration process to the cloud.

For example, containers enable more resilient approaches for modernizing applications, such as gradually decomposing monolithic programs into collections of independent and API-enabled services. Containers can support workload portability from the laptop all the way to the cloud.

Enterprises have been using Docker Datacenter to modernize their traditional applications. It allows them to ship software 13 times faster, while greatly simplifying application maintenance, said Roger Egan, senior vice president of sales and channel at Docker.

Applications in many cases are the lifeblood of enterprise business, so Docker teamed with the enterprise system experts at Accenture to develop a factory model for migrating to and securely managing containerized environments across the entire software supply chain, Egan explained.

That will enable organizations to quickly realize significant value that transforms both their application infrastructure and their business agility, he said.

Critical Changes

The alliance between Accenture and Docker, along with other container-oriented technologies, is critical to the success of modern application development initiatives. This is especially true for companies redesigning existing applications or venturing into the land of microservices — that is, using containers as an enabling technology, said Lee Calcote, senior director for technology strategy at SolarWinds.

“Consulting partners like Accenture play a critical role in what I believe will be some of the more challenging projects engineers have faced since the dawn of virtual machines,” he told LinuxInsider.

The industry is seeing a fundamental shift in the way that modern cloud-native software is designed, continuously delivered and operated, Calcote said.

For example, similar technology and consulting partner programs, including IBM Bluemix Garages, Red Hat Innovation Labs and CloudFoundry Dojos, offer immersive labs in which a group of engineers convene and collaboratively create prototypes leveraging open source projects, Calcote pointed out.

“In some cases, the consulted developers leave the lab not only with a completed application or feature prototype in-hand, but have learned the process and methodology required to become committers on those open source projects,” he said.

Accenture and Docker’s partnership is yet another sign of containers permeating the enterprise.

“It is exciting to consider how much more productive organizations will be once they have passed their first few modernization hurdles,” Calcote remarked.

“Certainly, most new software projects are considering containers as a core-enabling technology. Considering the current skills and experience gap our industry as a whole faces with respect to containerization and cloud-native design, Accenture’s partnership with Docker will accelerate enterprises through their modernization journeys,” he said.

What It Does

For enterprises and devs building cloud-native applications, containers offer a solution for accelerating software delivery and enabling automation. Accenture has worked with Docker for several years to help enterprise clients adopt containers. Accenture has seen a growing interest in the space as its clients sought to move workloads to the cloud with a strong desire for portability, said Accenture’s Burden.

“The Docker-based container services within the Accenture Cloud Factory are unique in that they are cloud-agnostic, enabling our clients to run containers in their preferred cloud — public or private,” he told LinuxInsider.

The new container services within the Accenture Cloud Factory containerize legacy workloads and move them to public and private clouds. The process involves using repeatable patterns, as well as defined entry and exit criteria, to standardize processes. It also provides industrialized and automated delivery. For more advanced needs, service decomposition of legacy into containers and configuration and setup of Docker Datacenter are also available.

“Other CaaS services do not offer the portability or multicloud capability,” said David Messina, senior vice president of product and marketing at Docker.

It lets users move their workloads across cloud types, from on-premises to the cloud, he told LinuxInsider. Additionally, other solutions are focused solely on cloud-native applications, whereas customers that Accenture and Docker engage also are looking for ways to use containerization to modernize their traditional, business-critical applications.

Security Issues

The cloud services expansions provide consultancy services with the ability to transform internal processes and move into a DevOps mode of operations. That offers enterprise clients a lot of benefits that come with containerizing applications, noted Sergey Maximov, head of product management at Virtuozzo, but the new technology requires a change in app architecture, development process and operations culture.

“The complexity of this technology should not be underestimated,” he told LinuxInsider. “In an ideal world, applications should be redesigned from the scratch, and moving existing business-critical apps into container world can be quite time consuming. Redesigning also means entirely redefining your approach to security, as the old approach may not directly be applicable for containers.”

Looking at cost, each new service inevitably will have a high operation cost until ops and devs learn how to work with it and create the appropriate tooling to manage it. In the long run, automation will be a key to reducing these costs, suggested Maximov.

“I would call these changes more a cultural shift for an organization. Devs should be concerned about how their apps are being run in a production environment,” he said.

Alternative Space

The advantage gained from the alliance is Accenture’s track record as a global consultancy, according to Kiyoto Tamura, vice president of marketing for Treasure Data.

Accenture Cloud Factory is an alternative cloud-native application platform, in his view.

“Cloud native is 10 percent about infrastructure and 90 percent about mindset, and mindset is much harder to migrate than bits and bytes,” Tamura told LinuxInsider. “I believe that Accenture will play — if not already — a key role in evangelizing cloud-native to CXOs and transforming IT from a cost center to a strategic differentiator.”

Accenture’s entry into this space, in partnership with Docker, is very welcome, he said. More choices mean market validation.

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.

Email Jack.

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