Goldman Sachs Invests in Containers

By Mike Vizard Print this article Print
Investing in containers

The financial services firm deployed its first Docker applications in a production environment to increase agility and lower the cost of delivering IT services.

Containers such as Docker are all the rage with developers these days. But when it comes to deploying applications based on containers in production environments, most IT organizations are naturally cautious.

At a recent Tectonic 2015 Summit conference hosted by CoreOS in New York, J. Ram, a managing director for Goldman Sachs, revealed that the company has deployed its first Docker applications in a production environment. He also acknowledged that it expects containers to significantly increase the agility of the financial services powerhouse, while dramatically lowering the total cost of delivering IT services.

Ram told conference attendees that the first Docker projects in a production environment are relatively small applications running on cloud infrastructure that are being used internally by the IT department. He added that once Goldman Sachs irons out the kinks associated with creating what amounts to new packaging and workflow processes—which are needed to rapidly deliver applications using containers—more than 8,000 Goldman Sachs developers will start churning out a lot more applications using containers. And they will do so at a rate that is substantially faster than what traditionally has been possible.

According to Ram, many of those applications will initially involve Docker containers being deployed on top of virtual machines. However, as the management and security frameworks surrounding Docker containers continue to mature, Goldman Sachs will reduce its dependency on hypervisors.

That doesn't mean that hypervisors will ever go away entirely, he said. But, if Goldman Sachs winds up saving five percent on its total investment in IT infrastructure, the dollar saving would be substantial.

Most of that saving, Ram said, would involve continuing to lower the percentage of the IT staff dedicated to managing infrastructure in favor of adding more developer talent. The real promise of containers, he added, is to accelerate development of applications in a way that is poised to become an industry standard.

Nevertheless, there are still a number of container issues that need to be addressed. Ram said they include security and persistence models that can span not only private and public clouds managed by Goldman Sachs, but also clouds that its customers stand up on their own. Ideally, he added, there might eventually be a framework through which Goldman Sachs could define the entirety of an application, regardless of where it is running.

Overall, Ram said that the primary reason to embrace containers now is to increase the rate at which applications are developed. While the saving on IT infrastructure should be substantial, that benefit might not actually manifest itself for a few years down the road.

Of course, when it comes to emerging technologies, not every IT organization has the resources that Goldman Sachs commands. But, as the financial giant goes, so too goes the rest of the financial services sector. And, as the financial services sector goes, so too go most of the major vertical industries.

This article was originally published on 2015-12-16
Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard, a Baseline contributor, has more than 25 years of experience covering IT issues in a career that includes serving as director of strategic content and editorial director for Ziff Davis Enterprise, which published eWEEK, Baseline, Channel Insider and CIO Insight.

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