Eliminate Pain by Introducing Your Team to Containers and Docker

Chapter 1 – For Business Owners

You’ve either been reading all about it, you’ve been asked to use it, or you’re already using it. It’s pretty much one of those three – either that or you’re probably not in the tech sector. Containers and solutions like Docker, Rkt (Rocket), and K8s (Kubernetes) are becoming a part of everyday conversation across all sectors of the tech industry. Everytime I attend a software platform convention, Docker is being discussed. Whatever your situation, I’m going to improve it today by helping provide a path to move your footprint closer to the container revolution.

Like I said, if you’re in the tech industry, you’ve either heard of containers, or you’ve at least heard about some dream in which they do wonders, or you’re being asked to work with them, or you’re actually using them and want your team to start using them. There is another category – the server IT guy/gal that doesn’t budge an inch on the value of bare-metal Linux servers hand-configured on a 1980’s keyboard, but we’ll save that for another blog. To all open-minded 1980’s keyboard users, I apologize for my generalizations.

The key is to promote a better future in real practical ways, and to get a practical MVE (minimum viable example) that relates to real problems in your organization. No matter your point of view, the key will be implementing the smallest possible project that your team can grasp onto to provide them a glimmer of how it will make their lives better. There is no better motivator than something that proves its own worth. That is true of containers.

The Business Owner

So you pay the bills, all of ‘em! Congratulations! For this reason, you’ve undoubtedly heard that containers have the potential to provide great savings, and (and maybe more important) the ability to do so much more with the same. The key is that containers maximize your ability to use the CPU resources available to you. They allow you not to worry about the cost of spinning up servers, removing them, managing them, or anything about how they work. They will make human relationships better in your organization and they will lighten the load on the shoulders of your team… believe it, the dream is huge… I could keep going.

So let’s get right to it – you already know you want to do this.

  1. On a regular basis you need start talking about the benefits to come – don’t worry about telling anybody to do anything yet. Just start working the benefits into your conversations with your team and keep doing it. You need to present your vision of a bright beautiful future.
  2. Once you’ve had a chance to promote containers within your organization, and once people get used to the idea, start promoting an MVE that can be done without much effort that will produce a basic functioning example the entire team can get on board with. Do some whiteboard brainstorming as you have time.
  3. Gauge the interest of your team and present the interested parties an opportunity to build the MVE.
  4. Keep the MVE small, trim off as much fat as possible, timebox the work to a week or some arbitrary amount of time that helps the team focus on the value of making the project small. You don’t know where the line is, and you just need to push and find it, so keep asking if there’s a way to make it simpler. I’d venture to guess that most people would, if given the opportunity, engineer an MVE that’s bigger than it needs to be. Ask: What can we do in a couple of days?

A lot of MVEs these days are a simple web server with node, or a php application. Push back against implementing SSL, load balancing, and database access as part of an MVE. These will be pretty easy later if you manage to get a simple container running on its own.

If your team runs into problems, have them contact me directly and I will help.

Now, you might want to be thinking about orchestration, K8 (Kubernetes), Rancher, Databases, SSL and maybe load balancing now.

Once you have something small working, you’re in a really good spot, and things will begin to snowball. Remember, I said containers are great motivators themselves because they will work on your behalf to prove their worth. Remember, the key to getting into containers as a business owner is to provide your team with a vision of a better future (as described above) and nailing down the smallest possible project you can put together that will show the value of containers. The project mustn’t be so difficult that you’re dragged into more work and then can’t finish. Taking on projects that are too complicated could be major stumbling blocks within your organization. Keep it simple, keep it successful. Stay focused on the dream, build only the MVEs that can take you to the next step, and take as many small steps as you can.

In the next chapter, we’ll discuss how someone being asked to use Docker at work can do so, with no experience and lead their team to success.

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