Containers are an intriguing concept. They excite developers and offer a way to streamline operations, opening up promising avenues for agility and flexibility. But after the first prototype, proof-of-concept or project, enterprises often face obstacles in advancing broader adoption. Just like digital transformation initiatives, taking containers out of these controlled environments and into a working IT environment requires a shift in how enterprises run and think about IT. It’s a departure from the traditional way of doing things.

So how can an enterprise successfully implement containers?

Persistent President Jiani Zhang and Red Hat Chief Architect and Strategist E.G. Nadhan recently sat down for a webinar conversation around containers and the role they play in helping modernize IT infrastructure and digital transformation. They talked extensively about adoption barriers and what is causing organizations to “get stuck” and have difficulty moving beyond early deployments.

This blog summarizes the conversation. Specifically, we highlight the five key areas that we believe are critical for pushing past the early challenges to maximize container benefits. Red Hat has developed the OpenShift Container Platform – the leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, with automated operations for hybrid cloud deployments, optimized for developer productivity. Persistent has recently announced our Red Hat Center of Excellence which is dedicated to helping accelerate OpenShift deployments for clients.

We believe there are five key areas – or lessons – that are critical to overcoming container adoption barriers.

Commit to standardization

The average IT environment is riddled with a multitude of technological choices – multiple flavors of operating systems, virtualization environments, hardware vendors and a myriad of cloud service providers.

The first step to standardization is the operating system. Standardizing on Linux positions enterprises for sustained innovation with continued injections of next-generation technologies through the open-source community. And as a leading contributor to the open-source community, Red Hat can advance features most pertinent to the adoption of containers across enterprises and give firsthand insight into upcoming features.

For many organizations, standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux ensures there is a secure, hardened platform that is open across the hardware, virtualization, private, and public cloud environments. It enables IT infrastructure to remain stable across use cases and workloads while enabling the organization to achieve faster innovation and a more agile and responsive operating environment.

Red Hat takes the same approach with the Red Hat OpenShift container platform. It goes across all bare metal, virtualization, and private and public cloud environments as well as the edge — just like Red Hat did during its founding years. Using OpenShift gives DevOps teams more streamlined, developer-friendly workflows while unified administration across resources and users helps reduce IT support costs.

Don’t forget about automation

Our view has always been that if there’s something routine in IT, we should automate it. Once the technology platform is standardized, enterprises must automate their development and operations processes along with business processes. Doing so better positions them to innovate their business and consumer experience while applying the features enabled by these automated technologies. Bottom line? Having the right levels of automation is vital to advance effective container adoption.

Recognize that collaboration drives innovation

Digital transformation forces organizations to eliminate silos and think differently. By definition, it demands an organization-wide process of workflows and data. That is its inherent value. While business units might not know the technologies behind new solutions, they will see the tangible benefits of new technology like containers.

This means IT and business operations collaborating to identify business outcomes. Red Hat and Persistent work with enterprises to identify outcome-driven use cases best positioned to benefit from container adoption. With immersive sessions are driven by Design Thinking techniques (Persistent’s Digital Greenhouse methodology for digital strategy planning) and Persistent’s Centers of Excellence, Red Hat and Persistent have processes in place to identify business outcomes, rapidly generate prototypes, and quickly show the business value containers are able to deliver. Identifying the business value first advances purposeful innovation with containers.

Don’t forget security

A major part of IT modernization is moving to the cloud – to platforms like AWS, Azure or Google Cloud – or combining cloud-based solutions with traditional on-prem systems for hybrid IT. Because of these hybrid environments – where some technologies may not have been written for a specific platform – taking containers to the cloud can raise security concerns. This is especially true when the workloads extend beyond the “firewalls of comfort.” Red Hat OpenShift has customized Kubernetes for exactly this enterprise environment with added security layers.

It’s not only important to adopt a platform that is ready for mission-critical enterprise workloads but also one that is automatically patched with proactive remediation. Just because the content is within a “container” doesn’t necessarily make it secure. Container images must be continuously scanned and leaving them alone will often lead to them becoming less reliable and secure. Red Hat OpenShift comes with much of this basic security built-in – making it easier to ensure security is maintained across cloud and on-prem platforms.

You must also modernize your culture

IT modernization requires a modernization of mindsets as well as technologies. And in the adoption of containers it requires a collaborative mindset that not only cuts across business units’ various business needs but also across development and IT operations teams. This requires transparency and knowledge sharing. IT modernization brings a speed and agility the business units love as they are now able to develop new offerings or business models and get them to market fast, and reduce costs while improving efficiencies dramatically. Organizations can now operate with a single consistent platform across development and operations, with greater security throughout the stack.

As former Red Hat CEO and now IBM President Jim Whitehurst has always advocated, “Culture is the output and not the input.” The culture of collaboration is a fertile ground for the sustained growth and adoption of containers.

As companies seek to leverage technology to build innovative companies it pays to work with experienced technology and services partners who can help your journey. Together, Red Hat and Persistent have the right mix of platform technology and services experience to help maximize the value from containerization.