When Chemist Earl Tupper designed the lightweight, non-breakable plastic containers that would reinvent food storage solutions, he couldn’t have imagined that the company would not only be successfully operating more than 70 years on, but also that the Tupperware brand would continue to innovate kitchen organization. And although cloud containers don’t have a lot in common with salad spinners and freezer storage cartons, they are equally as groundbreaking—and have the potential to become just as popular.

How do cloud containers work? Well, the accent is on flexibility and speed. They are similar to virtual machines but a container doesn't have to load up an operating system—you can create containers in a split-second with many applications running at once, all of them sharing certain operating system libraries and the operating system's kernel. That speed means a data center can respond super-fast if an application has a sudden spike in business demand, such as people running more searches or ordering more products. And it means you have more computing power from a single server, need to buy less hardware, build or rent less data center space, and hire fewer people to manage that all that.

So, it is no surprise that Accenture decided to embrace the use of containers as part of our cloud journey. With 95 percent of our company now operating in the cloud and the overall strategy for our organization to be living in the cloud, migrating our applications to cloud containers was an obvious choice.

Finding flexibility

Our Global IT organization is always on the lookout for further opportunities to get out of the business of managing infrastructure and get into the business of managing business expectations. That’s the reason why we’ve adopted platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings for Accenture applications. And containerization is another means to give us the flexibility and mobility we need to select the best cloud services from across a range of cloud service providers. Moving Accenture’s services to an Azure Service Fabric platform, a container platform which helps to manage applications for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, is an important step in tackling that goal.

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Accenture is the first enterprise customer to partner with Microsoft to migrate its vast number of applications to Azure Service Fabric. Adjustments to the existing migration approach were necessary, such as accommodating Accenture’s specific information security requirements. Additional automation and monitoring elements were also introduced. To make the process secure and easy-to-use for application teams, a successful pilot was conducted.

Today, Accenture is in production with Azure Service Fabric, with our application teams fully able to migrate applications to containers. They are supported by templates, guidelines, automated activities and documentation. Empowering teams to adopt containers means Accenture changes the experience for application developers, alongside helping to mature our DevSecOps delivery.

Azure Service Fabric is a centrally managed container platform and can help developers and administrators to avoid complex infrastructure problems, freeing them up to focus on implementing mission-critical, demanding workloads that are scalable, reliable, and manageable.

Azure Service Fabric introduces a reusable pattern for container development, build, and security. It means Accenture is able to:

  • Gain platform freedom
  • Improve the experience for Accenture’s application developers
  • Take advantage of reliable security
  • Move away from performing server maintenance activities
  • Reduce hosting costs

Adapt and learn

The Accenture Global IT team has learned several lessons along the way:

  • Provide an automated assessment tool for identifying what code needs to be remediated to be able to migrate an application.
  • Have a pre-determined plan developed as to how application teams can achieve containerization.
  • Provide an automated tool for preparing a developer workstation for working with containers locally.

If you’re looking for better, faster, and cheaper computing, there’s a lot to be said for an approach that includes containers. While a main processor uses a server around 10 to 15 percent and virtualized servers might raise that to 40 or 50 percent, containers can mean your central processing power is even greater. In turn, you can lower the cost of computing and get more out of your investments—which has to be a great reason to make this the Tupperware-equivalent choice for any IT organization.

Suhas Sane

Managing Director – Global IT, Data Architecture

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