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…and what do they mean for Maximo Developers, Operations, and End Users?

Let’s start with a disclaimer: This article is not going to be an exhaustive dissertation on Kubernetes and application containerization. There is so much available on the internet about this subject that it would be silly for us to write more about it. No matter your learning method, whether it be via illustrated children’s guides or more formal lectures by talking heads, the information on this somewhat new approach to application hosting is available to you from many sources.

Some topics you can search for that may help you:

  • Kubernetes
  • Application containerization
  • Red Hat OpenShift
  • Dev/Ops
  • Virtualization

But, for the purposes of this article, below are some basic definitions to get us started:

  • Docker is containerization platform for software developers.
  • Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration platform originally developed by Google. It supports container platforms such as Docker.
  • OpenShift is open source orchestration platform developed by RedHat and leverages Kubernetes. OpenShift basically adds capabilities to Kubernetes and makes it easier to use for developers and operators with prescribed configurations, processes and procedures.
  • IBM Maximo Application Suite architecture utilizes application containers and requires the use of OpenShift.

The goal of this article is to walk through how this technology is going to impact application development, operations/hosting, and the end user. As it is adopted more and more by enterprise application vendors, such as IBM and their new Maximo Application Suite (MAS), we will all need to get smarter with it.

Development Team

When it comes to raw application development, frameworks such as Red Hat OpenShift provide the developer many options and control over their applications. Changes to and the deployment of applications becomes more straight forward with fewer concerns about the underlying infrastructure.

Given Kubernetes has become the standard control plane for application containerization, developers can now focus on development vs. having to spend cycles considering the infrastructure the applications will run on. This is the, “write once, run anywhere,” promise of the framework.

Problems related to transferring application code from one environment to another are greatly reduced as the application and all its related files, binaries, libraries, and any dependencies are moved as a single unit.

The containerization of existing applications does promise that they will use underlying computing resources more efficiently. Only time and experience will tell if this promise bears out.

Specific to Red Hat OpenShift, it supports all the languages and databases that the typical developer is familiar with. Given that, we can foresee the development of custom or purpose-built applications that interact with MAS could accelerate. Additionally, these applications can remain outside of the base Maximo code, making upgrades and enhancements less complex.

Operations/Hosting

Kubernetes was created for operations, not necessarily for developers and end users in mind. Container platforms assist in the provisioning, deployment, and operations of the applications across multiple machines and operating environments. Load balancing and clusters are inherent functions of the technology. They also help keep the proliferation of application containers under control, much in the same way needed to keep the number of virtual machines manageable.

Given that there may be a mixture of existing applications that have been containerized as well as newer apps that appear as microservices, the operations side of the equation needs tools to manage this transition and provide the end user with reliable and consistent applications.

Products such as Red Hat OpenShift assist in several areas:

  • Deploying containers across disparate languages and databases
  • Managing container usage based upon available resources.
  • Track dependencies
  • Run both stateful and stateless applications together.
  • Run applications across physical, virtual, public, private, or hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Like the Development side, as new features and functions are developed, the container approach will make the deployment and management of enterprise applications like MAS more focused. As each application is a service unto itself in the big picture, it can be managed specifically. Upgrades and patches would be to it and perhaps not the entire set of applications.

EAM End Users

In general, end users will not really know that their applications are being presented to them using this technology. Just like today, end users really do not care about the operating system, the database, or the clustering scheme being used to provide them their applications. Certainly, all the capabilities for the two previous groups can ultimately benefit the end users through additional functionality and higher availability.

As application vendors are migrating their apps to this technology, they are taking advantage of the opportunity to update the user interface and leverage the interfacing across the cloud that it supports. This will require some learning on the end users’ part to get used to the new screens and functions. But this is nothing new… as new stuff comes out; we learn new things.

For the MAS end user, they will be provided much more functionality and in an increasingly seamless way. Depending on what their landing page or portal looks like, they might see several modules to choose from, or just a few. As more modules or services are made available, they will appear for their use.

Way forward

As stated at the beginning of this article, there is much to learn and many sources to do so about this framework. Some of you might just focus on the impact it has to development, while others may need to understand each of the areas discussed. Regardless of your focus, if you are in the application delivery business, as we certainly are here at TRM, gather your circle of trusted advisors and begin discussions about what the immediate and near-future looks like.

Article by John Q. Todd, Sr. Business Consultant at TRM. Reach out to us at AskTRM@trmnet.com if you have any questions or would like to discuss deploying MAS 8 or Maximo AAM for condition based maintenance / monitoring.

 

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