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Docker Inc. bolstered its program aimed at one of the biggest challenges facing enterprise migration to the cloud: what to do with legacy applications?

The company’s Modernize Traditional Application (MTA) program now includes broad support from IBM. Docker Inc. COO Scott Johnston said this includes IBM’s global services, software, and additional cloud services to augment new functionality.

Johnston said the expansion was driven by consumer demand for additional hybrid cloud environments in which to migrate legacy applications.

Docker Inc. launched the MTA program in April to help enterprises migrate legacy applications into hybrid cloud environments. That original announcement included deals with Avanade, Cisco, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

MTA works by using automated tooling to containerize existing applications without touching source code or re-architecting the app. It then allows IT departments to use the Docker Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) and Enterprise Edition (EE) products in migrating the now containerized apps onto a hybrid cloud environment.

IBM Cloud is now one of those destinations.

Docker Inc. and IBM are also tying the IBM Cloud product and IBM Watson into Docker EE. This allows enterprises to tap into those IBM resources as part of their cloud and Docker container migrations.

Docker in August updated its EE platform to support IBM z Systems mainframes. That update allows customers on mainframes to tap a single platform for control over containers without the need to change code.

Jason McGee, vice president and CTO for IBM’s Cloud Platform, said the mainframe platform can support up to 1 million Docker containers on a single system.

MTA Success

As for platform success, Johnston said Docker Inc. is seeing customers move legacy apps into the cloud without touching source code. As an example, he said this included an app developed and deployed in 2005, which the customer was able to migrate untouched into Azure.

“We have seen this sort of success on a consistent basis,” Johnston said.

Once migrated, Johnston said enterprises are taking advantage of more frequent software updates and witnessing a 50 percent increase on their return on investment (ROI). “Being able to take these legacy apps, move them to the cloud, and then update them more frequently is really a big improvement,” he said.

Legacy Challenge

The question of how to handle legacy applications continues to loom over the cloud and container space. Most analysts agree that enterprises and organizations have cloud and containers in mind when developing new applications, but are stymied by what to do with stable applications operating in legacy environments.

Jay Lyman, principal analyst for cloud management and containers at 451 Research, said enterprises are burdened with legacy platforms that are likely to require more time and care in transplanting into a container environment.

“That’s going to take some time,” Lyman said.

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