5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Container Orchestration Solution

By Liam Randall, Founder of Critical Stack from Capital One

As the number of container orchestration solutions on the market increases, so does the confusion about what’s right for your organization. However, choosing the right platform doesn’t have to be difficult if you know the right questions to ask about your team, infrastructure, and future plans for growth. 
Here are some of the most impactful questions leaders should consider when evaluating container orchestration solutions. 


Question 1: What is your cloud strategy?

It’s challenging to make an informed decision about container strategy before settling on a broader cloud strategy. In this 2019 article, Gartner cites a quote from VP Analyst Michael Warrilow stating, “most organizations adopt a multi-cloud strategy out of a desire to avoid vendor lock-in or to take advantage of best-of-breed solutions” and that they “expect that most large organizations will continue to willfully pursue this approach.” While a multi-cloud approach may make the most sense for your organization as well, it comes with its own complications. 

According to this 2019 ZDNet article, a multi-cloud strategy adds management complexity, especially if executed in an ad hoc manner rather than from the ground up. In either case, a container orchestration solution can drive down this complexity by simplifying the number of manual tasks developers need to perform. A solution that makes opinionated decisions across cloud providers further simplifies a multi-cloud strategy as users are able to work proficiently in different environments--even ones they’re less familiar with--via the orchestration platform.  


Question 2: How might container orchestration impact your staffing and talent strategy?

For many corporations, attracting and retaining tech talent is truly a herculean effort. This InformationWeek article cites the technology sector’s turnover rate at 13.2%--the highest employee turnover of any business sector-- and states that ⅓ of tech workers plan to leave their current role within a year. A separate InformationWeek article quotes Matt Leighton, Director of recruiting for tech staffing agency Mondo, saying “If you [as the employee] are not staying cutting edge, then you’re not doing yourself a favor.” 

What does this have to do with containers? Engineers don’t want to feel stagnant, and equipping yours with modern technologies goes a long way in both keeping them happy and truly setting them (and in turn, your organization) up for success. The ability to demonstrate true automation and continued learning in your environment often makes a huge difference in hiring and talent retention. 


Question 3: What is your team’s level of expertise with containers?

While containers, as a concept, are not new, their adoption has spiked in the last several years. A late 2018 article from The New Stack shared that container usage jumped from 22 percent in early 2016 to 38 percent in late 2018. 

However, just because organizations are jumping onto the container bandwagon doesn’t mean their teams are prepared. According to a 2018 study from IBM, 62% of developers say that a lack of adequate container expertise in their organization is their biggest concern when it comes to container adoption. 

Organizations may hesitate to adopt containers for fear of a steep learning curve for current tech teams and the inherent challenges in hiring talent with strong container experience. However, a click-and-play orchestration solution can alleviate some of the pain that comes with configuring, provisioning, and scaling container resources for application development.

That way, developers can get back to what they do best: shipping code.

For reference, read: What is a Container? Definition, Benefits, and Use Cases.

Question 4: Are your organization’s cloud resources over-provisioned?

Increased productivity is one of the most compelling reasons to adopt containers, since most organizations tend to be over-provisioned when it comes to their cloud resources. Many applications are draining cloud resources when they don’t need to be, while others face forced downtime when they need these resources the most. 

A container orchestration platform with load balancing capabilities can prevent these problems before they begin. The platform should be able to scale resources down on underutilized apps, and scale them up on applications facing peak demand. Just as you wouldn’t leave the lights in every room of your house when you’re only using one room, your organization shouldn’t need to allocate cloud resources to every application equally.


Question 5: What are your application development speed and scaling requirements?

Scale and speed are two more key container capabilities to evaluate. If your team needs to quickly spin up infrastructure for new applications, and scale to meet the demands of new and existing apps, choose an orchestration platform that will allow your team to set up new instances quickly.

You may also want to consider a platform that scales automatically, minimizing human intervention. As we referenced earlier, automation will drastically simplify your team’s workload when there are containers deployed across multiple cloud environments. Additionally, a solution that enables declarative infrastructure will inherently allow your developers to specify and drive toward the infrastructure that they want--we’ll explore this topic further in a future post. 


So what’s the answer?

Now that you’re thinking about container orchestration options, consider our very own! Critical Stack from Capital One allows users to easily orchestrate Kubernetes while maximizing productivity in the Cloud. Our developer tier is available to check out now, (including a free version) with our enterprise launch scheduled for 2020. If you’re new to containers, trying to solve resource gaps, or have a need for speed and automatic scaling, Critical Stack may be the right solution for your use case. 


Liam Randall
Liam Randall, Co-Founder of Critical Stack

President, Critical Stack - A Division of Capital One Bank. Entrepreneur. Investor. Advisor.

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: © 2019 Capital One. Opinions are those of the individual author. Unless noted otherwise in this post, Capital One is not affiliated with, nor endorsed by, any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are property of their respective owners.

Related Content

The Evolution of Infrastructure: How We Got to Containers

Fueling Enterprise Adoption of Containers at Scale

Kubernetes at Enterprise Scale: What You Need to Know