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Learn while doing with Portainer
Jack WallenApril 18, 20234 min read

Learn While Doing

Have you ever hired a tech support service and had them come on-site to resolve an issue, only to witness them having to google an issue to solve it? This happens more often than you might think. Of course, the next time that technician comes across the problem, they'll be prepared to fix it without the help of Google.

You'd probably be surprised at how prevalent this is in the tech industry. But when you pause to consider it, you'll realize there's a reason for this. No one can know everything. And with the advent of containerized deployments, cloud-native development, and multi-tenancy, technology has become more complicated than ever. 

Consider containers. 

To truly understand the sum-total of this technology, technicians and developers need to understand Linux, YAML, namespaces, networking, volumes, persistent storage, logic, problem-solving, analytical thinking, effective communication, solid troubleshooting, and more. You might also have to use DevOps, observability, and CI/CD for good measure. If Kubernetes is a part of the plan, even more skills are required.

Most general IT staff members must gain every skill necessary to deploy a container. You might have developers who can craft a good YAML manifest, but do you have the staff to deploy a Kubernetes cluster or Docker Swarm? 

The road to successful container deployments is fraught with hurdles, some of which are easy to overcome (such as deploying Docker Swarm). In contrast, some of those skills can be seriously challenging (such as troubleshooting and/or optimizing manifests). And when those deployments need to be better configured, it might cost you time and money.

How do you get around this?

Education is a vital component in the journey toward successful, efficient, and profitable container deployments. After all, if you don't have the necessary staff capable of working with containers, you have two choices: 

  • Hire staff with those specific skills.
  • Educate your current team.

Let's consider the first option. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a Kubernetes engineer is USD 152,188.00. According to the same site, the average IT staff salary is just over half of that (at $79,099). 

With those numbers in mind, imagine you need at least five staff members to handle your container deployments. Hire 5 Kubernetes engineers, and you're spending $760,940.00 annually for those employees. On the other hand, five general IT staff members would only cost your company $395,495.00 per year.

That's a considerable saving for your company.

But how do you get those general IT staff members up to speed on a technology that is far more challenging than resetting user passwords, troubleshooting printers, and installing MS Office?

You give them a tool that allows them to learn while doing. 

Here's the thing: Most IT staff are adept at figuring technology out when they have the right tool for the job. But those tasks are relatively simple. Have them log into the Linux operating system; in minutes, they'll feel right at home. Ask them to write a Python "Hello, World!" application, and they'll get it done faster than you might expect. Give them a more challenging task (say, deploying an LDAP server), and it might take them a bit more time, but they'll eventually get it done because there are GUI tools that can help them get up to speed.

You see, a good GUI makes all the difference.

When Docker and Kubernetes were first introduced, everything was done via the command line, which is not easy. Eventually, developers saw the challenge and decided to simplify everything with GUIs. Some of those GUIs stood up to the task, while others failed to live up to the hype. Portainer is one of those GUI container management systems that were not only up to the task but proved it could not only help make deploying containerized applications and services easy, but it could also help to teach IT staff members how containers work, how they are deployed, and how they are managed…all with a well-designed point-and-click interface.


Not a weakness

Some in the industry consider the "learn while you earn" or "learn while doing" idea akin to a weakness or a lack of skills. But considering how many "moving pieces" make up containerized deployments, that point of view is moot. 

For some, having the right tools to empower staff to not just succeed with the task at hand but also significantly improve and/or expand their skillset is a strength. Instead of paying for your staff members to attend costly, time-consuming classes on containerized deployments, the cost of using a tool like Portainer becomes seriously advantageous not just to your bottom line but to the growth of your employees.

With Portainer, as long as a member of your IT staff has a basic understanding of how containers work, they can deploy. That's just part of Portainer's strength. But it's more than just getting them to the point where they can spin up an NGINX container and serve up an essential website. With Portainer, those same staff members can quickly learn how to replicate deployments, control restarts, add persistent volumes, and so much more. And with each new skill they learn with Portainer, they open the door to learning even more complex tasks, including Kubernetes deployments at scale.

Ask any IT staff member the best way to learn a specific skill, and most will answer that doing that particular thing is the ideal path to success. If containerized deployments are your goal, you won't find a better tool for "learning while doing" than Portainer.


Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


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