The following excerpt is from a post originally published in 2017 on the Docker blog.
Founded in 1792, Alm. Brand is a Danish insurance and banking company headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Seeking Operational Stability for Legacy Apps
After successfully deploying the first set of new greenfield apps in their Docker Enterprise environment, Alm. Brand wanted to tackle their existing WebLogic applications, which were causing the operations team the biggest headaches. The team operated the WebLogic applications in a large cluster, all running on the same JVM. When an app crashed, it would often crash the entire JVM or hang the entire cluster, making it hard to identify which application was the root cause. The setup was also very brittle and slow, as they could only deploy one app at a time to the cluster.
With the skills and knowledge they picked up getting their first batch of stateless, greenfield applications running in Docker Enterprise, Keller, an IT architect, and Loke Johannessen, Systems Specialist, set some ambitious goals for migrating the legacy WebLogic applications. They set out to switch over from their existing cluster to Docker Enterprise during work hours without changing code and with minimal impact to their users.
Results and Impact
Today, Alm. Brand has migrated 39 WebLogic applications to their Docker Enterprise environment to go along with almost 50 new greenfield apps. They were able to execute the migrations with minimal disruption by load balancing applications between the legacy cluster and the new Docker Enterprise cluster, gradually transitioning traffic from one cluster to the other without disrupting users.
The impact of this migration has been great for the operations team for a number of reasons:
Improved configuration management: One of the more challenging issues Alm. Brand dealt with was uncovering 8 years worth of configuration drift across the different applications. By carefully testing and unboxing the dependencies, they were able to go from 26 different custom virtual machine templates down to 12.
Easier maintenance and troubleshooting: Alm. Brand is experiencing far fewer service interruptions because the applications are isolated from one another. Application issues are easier to identify and resolve as a result.
Unified operating model for greenfield and legacy apps: Having both types of applications running on the same Docker Enterprise platform allows for centralized logging and metrics collection across the portfolio. Alm. Brand is able to use the same set of processes and a single dashboard for managing all applications.
Sune and Loke have about 10 more WebLogic applications to finish migrating and then they are going to start looking at their Windows app portfolio. They’re already leveraging the basic access controls and LDAP integration capabilities of Docker Enterprise and are now also exploring some of the other advanced capabilities, such as node-based isolation for separation between production and non-production environments.
Alm. Brand Improves Application Configuration, Maintenance and Management with Docker Enterprise
Core WebLogic applications were brittle and prone to crashing during update cycles. The IT operations team needed to stabilize the environment to protect the business from downtime.
Docker Enterprise provides the foundation for containerizing legacy applications and stabilizing the environment. Going forward, Alm. Brand plans to containerize Windows Server applications.
Containerizing applications reduced dependencies, improves configuration management, minimizes service interruptions and prevents issues from affecting entire production environments.
Alm. Brand by the Numbers
Year Old Insurance Company
Legacy Applications Modernized
More Efficient App Management
“Now we have almost all of our legacy apps in Docker Enterprise, and we can scale them independently. We spend 90 percent less time troubleshooting problems and can spend that time on more productive tasks.”
— Sune Keller
IT Architect, Alm. Brand