You walk into the office tomorrow and get the bad news. The CIO is canceling support for your container project. That’s a painful decision to hear, especially if you’ve been working at spreading the good news about container technology for weeks.
Why did this happen? You know that implementing containers help to retain technical talent. Containers improve productivity as well. So, what’s stopping your CIO from giving you the green light to adopt containers?
The Critical Roadblock You Must Overcome to Implement Containers
Technical problems are the not the most significant roadblock to using containers, and here’s the reason why. Ultimately, you need to win the support of your developers and operations teams to bring containers into force. Merely appealing to logic – productivity benefits for example – is usually not enough. Instead, recognize that your colleagues are people, and that means they like routine and tend to be skeptical of change. If that’s the reality, how do you respond to it?
Change Management: The Path to Adopting Container Technology Successfully
Unless you’re a full-time change management professional, your change management skills probably need some work. According to John Kotter, change management expert and author of “Leading Change,” there are eight steps to successful change management, as mapped out below.
- Create urgency: You need to ship product features fast and scale to meet investor requirements; that’s an urgent reason to pursue containers. Without urgency, your container project will be deferred again and again as other priorities reach the top of the agenda.
- Form a powerful coalition: Who else in the organization will support you in adopting containers? This is where your network at the company will come in handy. Take a few minutes to create a list of people you know that are interested in innovative technology.
- Create a vision for change: Find a way to connect your desire for container technology to a larger goal. For example, if the company plans to double the number of customers in a year, keeping up with that growth is a challenge. Adopting containers is a way to manage that level of growth. Think of your vision as a “30-second commercial” that expresses the value of containers to technical and business audiences.
- Communicate the vision: Based on experience, this change management step tends to be neglected. Coming up with the vision is difficult, but it isn’t enough. You need to spread the message repeatedly before people will acknowledge it. This means starting meetings with the vision, sending newsletters, and answering questions about the vision regularly.
- Empowering others to act on the vision. Lay the groundwork in terms of systems and processes so that change is possible. For container implementation, this may include planning for some system downtime while you implement the new technology.
- Remove obstacles: When you disrupt the status quo with containers, you’ll face resistance and obstacles. There are two points to keep in mind here. First, you won’t be able to win over every person. Second, you need to take the time to listen carefully and look for ways to connect your vision to the person’s goals. For example, staff with years of experience in non-container technology may be concerned about their job security. Think through how you can help them succeed using containers.
- Create short-term wins: Sustaining motivation to change is difficult, so you need to look for ways to implement wins in the short term. A popular short-term win: lighten the workload for configuration work. Instead of configuring and testing operating systems repeatedly, you can cut down that workload substantially using containers.
- Build on the change: Now that you have some quick wins to celebrate, it’s time to continue building. For instance, extend container technology to the rest of the organization. You’ll also need to apply your management and governance processes to containers.
Tip: Do you need to create a business case to obtain funding for containers? If so, check out our guidance on “Get Your SSO Software Project Funded With a Business Case.” It’s aimed at single sign-on software, but you can adapt the process to containers.
Wait, I Have Security Concerns About Containers!
The focus has been on change management concerns because failing to address those issues will cause major problems. However, you may face security questions about adopting containers. These are reasonable points to raise. After all, if your containers are hacked and sensitive data leaked, your container implementation project may be put on hold. Let’s stop that from happening.
The Tripod of Container Security Optimization
To expand your IT security processes to cover containers, it’s important to cover a few factors: technology, training, and management. Lose any one of these factors and your tripod of container security will become unstable.
- Management support
Your managers set expectations by their word and deed. You need managers to join your coalition for change. Ideally, you’ll have managers from technology units and the business to support the change. Expect that you may have a short-term decline in productivity while staff learns how to use containers. It’s the price you pay to gain long-term innovation.
In a conservative organization such as a bank, you may only have a handful of container technology enthusiasts. One way to increase enthusiasm for adoption is training. Show your people how containers boost productivity. Show them how containers will help the company grow faster. Growth means more opportunities for your technical staff and the ability to stay competitive in the market.
- Technology solutions
You may have already chosen your container technology, such as Docker. That’s a necessary first step, but it isn’t the whole story. How will you manage the security and identity management aspects of using containers? Your existing solution – whether software or manual – may not be up for the challenge. Remember that containers are designed to scale up quickly.
Helping organizations respond to that change is Identity Anywhere. It’s a flexible way to manage identity with containers. By using Identity Anywhere, you keep the scale benefits of containers without sacrificing security controls. Including this solution in your container business platform will help you win over your security skeptics.