Who Needs an Operating System?

In the 1950s, the global economy saw a tremendous change – container ships revolutionized global commerce. Shipping costs got 36 times cheaper with the introduction of containerization. What if you could reduce operational costs and revolutionize application and database deployment in the same way?

Containers to the Future

In the last few months, the developer world has been excited about docker. Docker is a container system. Basically, it’s an easy way to do application deployments. Rather than deploy an entire VM, Docker lets developers deploy a consistent stack – the developers can set up individual services with independent configurations and deploy them.

Sounds like a contained database, right?

The best part about these containers is that, if you do it right, you might not need an OS under the covers. Or, if you do, it doesn’t matter which one! The container hold the configuration it needs to run. It doesn’t matter if you deploy on Linux, Solaris, or (maybe) even Windows – as long as that container knows what to do, you’re good.

With the database, should you really care which edition of SQL Server you’re running on as long as it supports the features you need?

Surely My Storage Is Safe From This Madness!

The storage game is rapidly changing. Not that long ago, traditional storage vendors required that you buy expensive and proprietary big systems. That part of the industry was disrupted by modular technology like the Dell EqualLogic. As storage has become cheaper, it has returned into the chassis in specialized servers; you can easily cram 24TB of SSD storage into a server with gear you can buy off the shelf.

Large scale storage is getting even more accessible: Seagate have announced their Kinetic Cloud Storage. It’s storage that uses an API, rather than an operating system. The drives feature new technology and Ethernet connectivity. This makes it possible for application developers to interact with the drives using an API rather than through a storage controller, cache tier, and storage tiering.

The idea might sound crazy, but third party libraries already exist that take advantage of this technology. Come launch time, developers will have drive simulators at their disposal, more libraries, and you’ll have a better idea of what this costs. You’ll be able to put 2.4 petabytes into a full rack of hardware. All without buying a complex storage appliance.

How Much Farther Can It Go?

Think about it:

  1. Applications can be deployed as containers.
  2. Storage will soon be deployed as containers.
  3. Databases are on their way to being deployed as containers.

Just as the cargo container had far reaching implications for the shipping industry, the software container has far reaching implications for our industry. The operating system and even the database platform become raw materials that are used to support the applications deployed on them.

What Does It Mean?

What’s it all mean for IT professionals? It means that the times, they are a changin’. If the application can be deployed as a container, there’s likely to be a decrease in managing the complexity of production applications. Once you can treat storage as an API, you change how storage administrators interact with storage. Over the next few years, containerization is going to change the way you manage the IT infrastructure.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • That looks really interesting – I’m looking forward to seeing it natively support Windows rather than needed VirtualBox. Good post!

  • is this the same as the weblogic ear or war files? forgot the exact name

    • Jeremiah Peschka
      November 4, 2013 12:08 pm

      The promise is similar, but containers abstract it at a higher level. You don’t need to worry about CLASSPATH issues or DLL hell, the container is an isolated, automatic unit of deployment.


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