In this article
OpCon moves to Docker to give users the flexibility of running on Linux servers and optimizing their IT infrastructure
Authors: Francois Eyl, Senior Director of Product Strategy, and Ben Demaree, Director of Product Management, SMA Technologies
OpCon on Docker is part of the 19.1.1 release
Automation is the backbone of almost every organization's major IT initiatives because it is the only option to reach efficiency at scale. The quest for flexibility, value, and speed is driving both workload mobility and DevOps efforts to transform large and monolithic applications into containerized microservices. These services are running on hybrid cloud infrastructure that leverages Docker, Kubernetes, and Openshift technologies. SMA Technologies is helping simplify IT administration by containerizing OpCon, our workload automation platform.
Basics of containerization
A container is a running instance of an image, which is a lightweight, standalone, executable package of software that includes everything needed to run an application. Containerized software always runs the same, regardless of the infrastructure – think about it as a lightweight virtual machine that only contains the minimum number of libraries your application requires.
How is this valuable to IT leaders?
Containers isolate software from its environment and ensure it works uniformly despite differences in the environment. Development machines, test servers, production servers, data centers, or cloud infrastructure can all be on different hardware with different operating systems, but containerized applications perform the same across all of them. Containerized applications are portable, flexible, and easy to deploy, addressing today's infrastructure challenges.
How OpCon works in a container
OpCon comes in two parts: the OpCon core software and the OpCon database. Before you begin using OpCon containers, you'll want to decide if you're going to put the database in a container or leave it where it is. OpCon functions either way, with no noticeable change in how it communicates with your environment. The advantage of containerizing both is they can be paired together using Docker Compose, which makes for quicker deployments.
With our OpCon on Linux Docker image - you can now run the OpCon platform in a container on any system that supports Docker images; including Windows, Linux, Kubernetes, and Openshift. As a bonus, we are providing a Linux Docker Image that contains our Linux Agent as a base for you to quickly build images for your other applications.
Advantages of containerizing OpCon
I'm going to end the wall of text now and get down to business with some bullet points on how containers make your job simpler and more straightforward:
- Flexibility & speed
- Installation time drastically reduced
- Upgrade process is simplified
- Better support for platform provisioning
- Option to run in data centers or cloud infrastructure via Docker, Kubernetes, or Openshift
- Resource usage
- Containers use fewer system resources than VMs do, meaning you can get more performance out of your infrastructure
- Clients who want to run multiple OpCon environments can host them on the same server
- Ex: our data-processing clients will now be able to use one OpCon container for each of their customers.
- Fewer resources per running instance means cost savings
- New fully functional instance of OpCon is as simple as loading an image into Docker
- Multiple copies of an image don’t degrade - they'll all run the same
- Applications are more secure in containers, and Docker provides robust default isolation capabilities
- OpCon installation is no longer subject to environmental changes
- Environment management
- You can apply the OpCon agent to your app images that need it or use our OpCon agent image as your base, and duplicate this for every image you want to create a container from
- When you use OpCon with Docker, you will benefit massively if you also begin moving your other apps to Docker
How can clients get started with OpCon Docker containers?
If you're already an SMA Technologies client, then please contact your Account Executive to upgrade to OpCon 19.1, a requirement for Docker support. If you're not a client yet, please contact us so we can have a conversation about your organization's automation needs to see if we’re a good partner for you. The OpCon Docker image is available now, and you can find it on DockerHub.
How much does it cost?
OpCon on Docker is part of our version 19.1 product release, included at no extra charge.
How long does it take to bring to production?
Implementation time varies based on how long it takes your team to install, configure, and get comfortable with Docker. The process for installing OpCon itself quite simple:
- Pull the OpCon Docker Image from the registry via Docker
- Run the OpCon image via Docker
Kubernetes and container infrastructure is still relatively new. If you'd like to modernize your infrastructure and move your OpCon environment to Docker, we have two equally good options for you, even if your organization lacks the resources to do it in house.
- Automation Consultancy – One of our automation consultants will visit your site and walk your team through the configuration and install process. You can gain even more from this visit if you schedule an automation audit to coincide with it. The consultant will go through your IT procedures and infrastructure with you and look for opportunities to add new automation or refine and optimize existing automation.
- Managed Automation Services – We offer a "hands-off" option to manage your automation environment fully, or a "helping hand" approach where you can utilize our automation experts for specific needs, such as monitoring and maintaining particular workflows or setting up advanced automation. You can think of MAS as a long-term solution to help you manage your ongoing automation initiatives, including your switch to OpCon on Docker.
There's more to OpCon 19.1 than Docker, and I have two more blogs coming up that cover the refinements to Deploy and Solution Manager, as well as other updates.
Thank you for your time today.
Contact our automation experts to discuss your organization's automation needs.
OpCon Docker walkthrough
About the authors:
Francois Eyl is Senior Director of Product Strategy for SMA Technologies, where he sets the product vision and strategy leading the product management department to translate current and future market needs to roadmap.
Ben Demaree is Director of Product Management for SMA Technologies, where he bridges the gap between the clients and the development team to make sure our clients have the best tools possible to meet their automation demands. When he's not at work, Ben spends his free time with his wife and four children and an interesting variety of pets.
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