With IBM Sterling B2B Integrator v5.2.6 scheduled for End of Support in September 2021, it’s the right time to start evaluating and preparing for application upgrade(s) to the latest product version. Starting with B2B Integrator v6.0 version, we have introduced support for installation using containers on platforms such as Docker along with the standard product installation using IBM Installation Manager. We added further advancements on our container offering in v6.0.3 and released the first version of IBM Certified Containers which is an enterprise grade, cloud ready and secure product edition deployable on a Kubernetes based containerised platform like Red Hat OpenShift using open deployment technologies – Helm and an integration-ready with platform common services.
IBM Certified Containers v2.0, released as part of the recent major product version release v6.1 in September 2020, supports the latest and greatest platform stack including Red Hat OpenShift 4.x, Helm 3.1.x and Kubernetes >=1.14.6.
This is the first of the two blogs in which the path to upgrade to IBM Certified Containers will be outlined along with the benefits of using containers.
Introduction to Containers
1. What is a container?
A container is a standard unit of software that packages an application and all it's dependencies so that it can be moved between environments reliably and run quickly without any changes. A container image is a lightweight, standalone, executable package of software that includes everything needed to run an application: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries and settings. Container images become containers at runtime. A container works by isolating the differences between applications inside the container so that the external environment could be standardised. Containers share the host machine’s operating system (OS) and do not require an OS per application which makes them portable, lightweight and secure.
2. Benefits of containers:
- Portable – Any platform with a container runtime can deploy containers
- Consistent – The application and its dependencies are pre-installed in the container
- Lightweight – Containers are much more lightweight than virtual machines and share the host operating system kernel
- Easy to manage – Container images can be maintained and versioned on registries. Containers are easy and quick to start and stop
- Efficient – Container images share layers and only push or pull layers which have changed for new release versions
3. Container management:
Container management is a process for automating the creation, deployment and scaling of containers. A container management platform like Kubernetes facilitates the instantiation, monitoring and management of the containers required for the application(s). It takes care of auto scaling the application containers based on configured thresholds for resources or custom metrics as well as making the application resilient by automatically restarting failed containers and monitoring for liveness/readiness of the application.
IBM Sterling B2B Integrator Certified Containers:
IBM® Sterling B2B Integrator (B2BI) Certified Container is an enterprise grade, cloud ready and secure product edition deployable on a container management platform like Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift using open deployment technologies like Helm and is integration ready with cloud native services.
B2B Integrator Certified Container software provides Red Hat certified docker images and IBM certified production grade helm charts with streamlined deployment instructions for any Kubernetes based container management platform. This deployment architecture helps to install the application with more ease (single click install) and flexibility (each B2BI runtime is its own docker container with independent ability to scale) along with an option to scale dynamically based on standard metrics for CPU/Memory usage thresholds, thus avoiding any manual intervention. The Certified Containers are also available for Sterling File Gateway product installations.
Red Hat certified Sterling B2B Integrator docker images offers multitude of benefits such as:
- All components come from a trusted source
- Platform packages have not been tampered with
- Container image is free of known vulnerabilities in the platform components or layers
- Container is compatible across Red Hat platforms and OpenShift, whether on bare metal or a cloud environment
- The complete stack is commercially supported by Red Hat and our partners
IBM Certification of Sterling B2B Integrator containers and chart highlights below client values:
- Enterprise Ready – Production Grade, Resilient, Scalable and Recoverable
- Secure/Compliant – Image Vulnerabilities management, Limited security privileges and secure access
- Flexibility – Create once and deploy anywhere OpenShift runs be it IBM Cloud, AWS, Azure or Google cloud platform providers
- Speed – Accelerate time to business by focusing on your business values than building an IT stack
- Reduce Costs – Automate and simplify the deployments
Benefits of Certified Containers:
Upgrading an application using Certified Containers has the following benefits:
- Simplifies application deployment and life cycle management with zero down-time upgrades
- Faster start-up time and new instance creation
- Support for better serviceability with cloud ready logging and monitoring tool support
- Build support for continuous integration & delivery.
- Provides auto-scaling and resiliency with standardized deployment
- Protects with highest standards of security
Stay tuned for Part II of the blog series for more details on the path to upgrade to IBM Certified Containers!