Trends in IT for 2021 – clouds and containers

When we say that someone has his head in the clouds, we usually don’t mean anything positive. We suggest that someone doesn’t care about everyday, down-to-earth matters. Instead, he is constantly distracted, he follows alternative, often abstract thoughts.

However, there are situations, in which this phrase may earn a new meaning. In recent years the majority of the IT industry has proved to put its head higher in the clouds. At the beginning of 2021, this phenomenon only escalated. This time it’s a positive process.

Of course, I mean increasingly common investments in cloud technology and solutions. IT companies have been recognizing the potential for quite a long time. It’s because cloud technology gives them many beneficial features, including access to big computing power (“on-demand”) and ease of creating additional environments and machines, mainly for testing purposes.

In this article, I focus on this and several other advantages of launching cloud technology in your company. Besides the facilitation of everyday work, you will also learn about containers – tools that help IT developers from the advanced, technological side.

Are you ready? Here we go!

Increasing comfort of remote work

According to Statista, around 65% of IT workers in the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada have spent 2020 in partly or totally remote work. There are reliable signs that this percentage will only grow in upcoming years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been frequently mentioned as the main reason for this situation. This is a wrong impression. Actually, the pandemic has become only an accelerant of an inevitable process. It was originally triggered by cloud technologies.

They are currently introduced to applications made for remote communication, such as Zoom or Teams. Especially the second one is on the verge of big transformation. One thing is sure – you can’t call it a tool used only to enable video conferences.

Teams have become a huge repository with all documents and other important files belonging to the company. It is accessible only for authorized people. They can send files to each other during the conference and analyze them on one shared screen. It can only improve the workflow of all people engaged in a particular project.

You can always create groups and sub-groups within your company. Cloud technology allows you to manage the accessibility of all documents and files. Some of them may be widely available, while some can be shared only between people from one department (HR, front-end, back-end, etc.) or the ones working on a particular subject.

Companies frequently use public cloud platforms, such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon Web Services. However, in some cases, they decide to create an own, private cloud. It is a much more expensive operation, but it guarantees the total privacy of the shared documents. It’s up to you to decide which solution is more profitable in a particular situation.

Whiteboard for everyone

There are some additional applications, which make working in the cloud even easier. One of the highest-rated is Microsoft Whiteboard, compatible with Teams.

We all remember traditional meetings in a conference room in our office. Whiteboard has always been priceless in these situations. We were able to note all new ideas, comments, and objections in one place. Then, thanks to these materials we could come up to conclusions and define the next stage of a project. Well-working machine, wasn’t it?

There has always been one “reporter”, who collected all ideas and noted them on a whiteboard. Now, every observation can be freely added online thanks to Microsoft Whiteboard. Every person is given markers, post-it notes, etc. The effects of such brainstorming can be saved in a cloud, you can open and edit them whenever you want. Having this history of activity can only improve the work organization and productivity. 

Additional tip – it’s important to remember how the general access to a whiteboard would look like in a real conference room. I bet you want to avoid the crowd of discussing people, who fight to get to a whiteboard with a marker and share their thoughts. I mean, even if the online conditions are much easier, it’s always great to have someone to manage this discussion.

Container – the cloud for a developer

Developers working on an application use something similar for quite a long time. It’s called containerization. What is it and when is it mostly used?

Let’s think about the situation when a developer wants to move his app somewhere. There can be several reasons for that, e.g. the necessity to run some testing (including the destructive one), or separation of an app to provide stability and security.

In normal circumstances, such activity requires the re-installation of a whole operating system, restoring all app configurations, sometimes creating numerous copies and instances and separate IP numbers for each, etc. All these activities are demanding and time-consuming.

This is where containerization appears – a developer uses a container, which is a virtual unit. He puts his app there with all its processes, configurations, and dependencies (libraries, local databases, etc.). He is also free to test all new potential solutions. Each container is a safe place with space for RAM and a hard drive. It also has its individual IP address.

This way of storing and moving all the activities linked with an app is very comfortable. It improves the efficiency and productivity of the developer’s work. We can observe it in big and medium software houses, where we have tens of ongoing projects.

With a big number of containers, it’s always beneficial to care about the automatization of infrastructure, the right workflow, and scaling. The most popular platform used for these purposes is Docker. In recent times, there appeared Kubernetes, a program made by Google. These two platforms can work simultaneously.

Faster, higher, stronger, but easier above all

You can paraphrase the Olympics motto to understand the idea of all mentioned IT trends in 2021. Clouds and containers are the first parts of the chain that is beneficial in all parts.

Clouds affect the proper development of work culture, communication between workers from the whole company, also considering the ones from specific departments and projects. Remote work is becoming a common and effective operation.

Containers are facilities for developers. The advantages of this solution can be described in three steps – mobility, lightness, and consequent agility. We will follow the further development of these technologies with great interest. For this moment, it’s worth the risk to say that they are the future of the whole IT industry.

Many solutions have been reserved for people with their heads in the clouds so far. Now, thanks to other clouds and containers, they are on the verge of getting real.

Tadeusz Olewicz