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Containerization Executive Q&A | ESF – Enterprise Storage Forum

Containers allow enterprises to transport applications and all their dependencies between different computing environments. Containerization is useful for organizations that need to regularly move workloads to different platforms and begin running them as quickly as possible. 
Container vendors continue to develop containerization solutions as part of their cloud infrastructures, like advancements in serverless computing for containers. Containers work in conjunction with technologies like hybrid cloud and enterprise software platforms. 
Rohit Badlaney, the VP of product management and strategy at IBM Cloud, discusses the current containerization market with Enterprise Storage Forum and how IBM is putting those technologies to use: Rohit Badlaney headshot. Rohit Badlaney leads product management, with focus on strategy and execution, across 190 IBM public cloud services. Badlaney is an IBM executive with over 17 years of product management, software development and management, and customer relations experience. He has led and managed teams across various IBM Labs for the successful delivery of strategic software development projects.
Previously, Badlaney was VP for IBM Z Hybrid Cloud, leading the hybrid cloud strategy, product management, R&D for Hybrid Cloud, AIOps, and DevOps offerings for the IBM Z Platform. 
Enterprise Storage Forum: How did you first start working in the containerization market? 
Badlaney: Originally, I’m from Mumbai, India, and I have a master’s degree in computer engineering from North Carolina State University. I began my career at IBM and have now been with the company for over 20 years with roles across our software and systems portfolios.
In this time, I’ve leveraged my computer engineering background as a member of the Core Product Engineering team, had roles in client success and management roles running profit and loss. All these different experiences have helped to prepare me for my current position as the chief product officer for IBM Cloud, driving the strategy and product management organizations.
I believe a knowledge of the key technologies that enable a hybrid cloud model to be secure, open, and flexible is critical for today’s business leaders. Containerization — which involves encapsulating application code, libraries, and other dependencies, so applications can run uniformly and consistently in any environment — is a part of this.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is your favorite thing about working at IBM?
Badlaney: My favorite thing about working at IBM is the culture of innovation. Seeing the company grow has truly been the best part of working here. IBM has evolved to become more than just the company that made one of the first computers. In 2021, we shifted our focus to become a true hybrid cloud leader by adopting a platform-centric approach, making strategic partnerships and investing heavily in research for hybrid cloud and ethical AI.
As a growing hybrid cloud company, IBM has brought together so many change makers and innovative leaders from across the globe to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems by applying hybrid cloud technology.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one key containerization technology that particularly interests you?
Badlaney: At IBM, Red Hat OpenShift is a technology that is core to our identity as a hybrid cloud and AI company. Our open, hybrid cloud platform is built on Red Hat OpenShift to offer clients the security and flexibility needed to modernize their workloads.
And this strategy is paying off. Clients around the world — now numbering more than 4,000, including Verizon, AT&T, Discover Financial Services, and more — are seeing the value of
running on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform.
In addition, software is fundamental to hybrid cloud, and Red Hat OpenShift is fundamental to all the IBM software that we build. We deliver all our software through Cloud Paks, which are pre-
integrated, pre-certified, AI-powered and containerized capabilities that are built on top of Red
Hat OpenShift, so clients can deploy them on whatever cloud or on-premises environment
meets their business requirements.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one containerization technique that teams should implement?
Badlaney: Managed platforms that enable developers to bring a container image and let the cloud provider manage the underlying security and infrastructure are a critical time-saving strategy. For example, last year, IBM launched IBM Cloud Code Engine, which provides a front-end layer to simplify the complexities of open-source container platforms and provides a streamlined platform for developers to manage — even if they don’t have platform-specific skills. This abstraction enables developers to move up the stack and focus on solving line of business needs.
For example, Swedish logistics solutions company SiB Solutions is using Code Engine to build a solution that uses cameras on a warehouse floor to flag errors before they cause supply chain issues. Cameras can detect and then alert a forklift driver to a misplaced box and give clear markers showing where it should be put instead. By using Code Engine, SiB was able to build and run the solution and ease the strain on its developers by freeing them from having to configure complex code. Code Engine gave the company greater control. Instead of having to configure and deploy the solution according to platform-specific requirements, they could instead determine how they wanted the application to run, give those specifications to IBM, and have that precise application up and running within minutes. 
Enterprise Storage Forum: What are some current trends in the containerization market that are promising?
Badlaney: The move toward serverless computing is incredibly promising as far as enabling companies to work with greater speed and flexibility. Serverless enables developers to write and deploy code without the need to manage underlying infrastructure, thus freeing up resources for innovation. And in today’s fast-moving enterprise space, this is more critical than ever.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What are the biggest factors that are driving change in containerization?
Badlaney: The world and the way we do business is changing. The COVID-19 pandemic served as an accelerant for modernization — with a decade’s worth of transformation happening over the course of one year. Businesses — including those in regulated industries, such as financial services and government — are finding that they are being compelled to modernize core business workloads. At the same time, data breaches are intensifying, the regulatory environment is becoming increasingly complex, and the window to meet customer demands is narrowing even further. 
These forces together have led the strongest companies to look at opportunities to choose solutions that allow them to modernize at their pace and in the way that best lets them innovate while meeting core customer and compliance needs. IBM has embraced a platform-centric approach based on Red Hat OpenShift, which allows clients to develop and deploy workloads on multiple public clouds or on-premises, achieve consistent security across their computing infrastructure, and innovate anywhere.
Enterprise Storage Forum: How has containerization changed during your time in the market?
Badlaney: Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of change around serverless computing. The old version of serverless has given way to something more flexible. These days, it’s not just about deploying anywhere: with containers, all the components needed to run an application are available in small packages, thus decreasing need for interactions with server’s software leading to greater speed. It’s about empowering developers to focus on writing code instead of dealing with complexities that may be extraneous to their needs, such as the underlying infrastructure and its security.
Enterprise Storage Forum: Where do you predict the containerization market will be 5 or 10 years from now?
Badlaney: As hybrid cloud becomes the increasingly dominant cloud computing model — so far, only about 25% of enterprise workloads have moved to the cloud — containerization will grow in importance. We know clients will host workloads across multiple environments, and we want to give them ways to do so securely and with control. 
With the right container strategy, organizations can more easily and securely modernize their environment with hybrid cloud — deploying workloads once and running them anywhere. As environments become more complex, distributed hybrid cloud offerings, like IBM Cloud Satellite, enable clients to operate more consistently and securely while providing fully managed cloud services. Additionally, our partnership with SAP enables enterprises to move mission-critical workloads and applications to a highly secured and reliable cloud environment, thus strengthening clients’ hybrid cloud strategies.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one containerization technology your team wants containerization professionals to know?
Badlaney: Kubernetes is at the core of any containerization strategy. That said, it can be complex, so while an understanding of the principles that make up a containerization strategy is critical, IBM is focused on building tools that will allow developers — even those without a strong background in Kubernetes — to take advantage of it with more ease. That’s why we launched IBM Cloud Code Engine last year, enabling clients to run containers, serverless, batch jobs, and functions in one place.
Enterprise Storage Forum: If you could give one piece of advice to a containerization professional in the beginning of their career, what would it be?
Badlaney: Focus on the business picture and value provided by a solution. Look for the tools that will enable you and your teams to quickly drive business results, rather than just focusing on development, will allow you to stand out. That’s the benefit of containers — they let developers build the applications businesses need in the era of hybrid cloud, without the need for specialized skills, so that they can focus more on business outcomes, not just writing code and re-deploying it.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one of your top professional accomplishments?
Badlaney: One of my top professional accomplishments was bringing IBM ​zSystems to IBM Cloud. This enabled our traditional ​zSystems clients to access secure and flexible cloud services from their existing platform.
Now we have three product portfolios built around this: Hyper Protect Services, the Wazi developer environment, and confidential computing. Enabling IBM ​zSystems for the cloud has enabled IBM Cloud to become the industry’s most secure and open cloud for business.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is your favorite part of working in the containerization market?
Badlaney: In the last few years, it’s been so interesting to see how the containerization market has grown rapidly, shifting from innovative new tech to a now must-have for enterprises to optimize a hybrid cloud strategy.
IBM recognized the potential of the containerization market early on, which is why we chose to acquire Red Hat in 2019. With this acquisition, we were able to develop our hybrid cloud platform, which is open, secure, and flexible. Importantly, it doesn’t lock a client into one cloud vendor, which we believe goes against the spirit of true hybrid cloud. At its core, our platform is based on Red Hat, which gives clients powerful software capabilities based on open-source innovation that can be deployed anywhere — on-premises, public cloud, or private cloud.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the market continues to evolve.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one of your favorite parts of the work week? How does it encourage or inspire you? Do you have a favorite way to recharge during the workday?
Badlaney: One of my favorite parts of the work week, or rather work month, is Arvind Krishna’s Office Hours. Arvind has made admirable strides in his role as CEO of IBM since April of 2020. Any time I get to listen to him speak, it’s inspiring, because he has truly worked to propel the business forward in a time of unprecedented change. Personally, I wish I was half as smart as him! 
His office hours bring together all of IBM, reminding me that I’m constantly surrounded by some of the most creative and powerful thinkers from around the globe striving towards the same goals.
Enterprise Storage Forum: What are your favorite hobbies or ways to spend time outside of work?
Badlaney: My favorite way to spend time outside of work is watching my favorite team, the India Cricket team. You could say I bleed blue, both for IBM and cricket!
Learn more about trends in the containerization market next.
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