The concept of the containers in computing emerged with companies need to serve their applications consistently and efficiently across a multitude of hardware and software stack. Modern technology companies make extensive use of containerization to be able to run their applications on different infrastructure (hardware or software) to
- serve different customer groups
- run their applications on a variety of platforms for different use cases like IoT
- be infrastructure agnostic. Infrastructure agnostic companies can change their infrastructure with limited configuration to take advantage of different architectures for cost or other optimization reasons. This limits vendor lock-in.
What is containerization?
Containerization aims to enable applications to run consistently across different systems and infrastructures and minimize sources of error and inefficiency. Modern businesses rely on different on-premise platforms and private, hybrid and public cloud infrastructure. To enable consistent and efficient operations across these diverse infrastructure, they rely on containerization.
What is the difference of containerization vs virtualization?
Although both containers and VMs are designed to provide an isolated environment to run an application, the underlying architecture is different in the two concepts:
- Containers virtualize an OS in order to run multiple applications in one OS
- VMs virtualize hardware to run multiple OS.
The speed, agility, and portability of the container helps it streamline software development.
An analogy could help to state the difference between two approaches:
- VMs can be thought as buildings and containers can be thought as apartment buildings. A building is built with an independent architecture and has its own infrastructure, such as heating, electricity. However, a building may have excessive rooms that you don’t use. Even if you buy the smallest building available, the majority of the building will be redundant for a person living alone.
- Apartments share infrastructure such as heating and electricity. At the same time, different sizes of flats can be purchased depending on the need, making renting apartments a more efficient approach compared to renting buildings
Containers provide an efficient way of resource management. A virtual machine needs a different OS for every application while one operating system manages all applications in a container engine.
What are containers?
The container is a software unit that packages code for an application to run quickly and reliably from one environment to another. While Docker is one of the most popular container engine technologies, container ecosystem also includes alternatives such as CoreOS rkt, Mesos Containerizer, Linux Containers (LXC), OpenVZ and crio-d.
The Properties of these containers may be different, but it is their primary task to ensure that they can run operate on multiple operating systems and can be used in multiple environments.
How Do Containers Work?
In order to understand how containers work, it is necessary to know about virtualization. Virtualization is sharing computing resources among different uses: CPU, RAM, Disk and Network are divided into isolated resources.
Containers virtualize an operating system at the user area level. Containers usually have a separate editing utility command. DevOps teams create and manage different containers using orchestration software. Orchestration tools facilitate dividing the operating systems of the host computer into user resources, and are responsible for distributing and monitoring these resources.
What are the components of a typical conterization platform?
In order for containers to function properly, some components are necessary. A container must be have a management system, a networking system, monitoring system and an orchestration mechanism.
- container management: Used to automate the creation, destruction, deployment and scaling of software containers. Encapsulation is an approach that divides an operating system (OS) and isolates processes that link their applications and dependencies to a deployable unit. Automatically deploying container-based applications to operating systems and the public cloud automatically requires container management.
- container orchestration: Manages the life cycles of containers where many applications are running. Orchestrations such as supply, distribution, redundancy and availability of containers are needed to properly control and automate the given task. Orchestration tools are used in order to go beyond the management of individual containers. Container orchestration and container management tools may share similar features but container orchestration fills the gaps of the container management.
- container networking: Provides the necessary connections. Some of the main responsibilities are to enable communication between the computer OS and the container, as well as communication between different containers.
What are the advantages of containerization?
- Resource efficiency: In containerization, software running in inclusive environments share an operating system kernel. In this way, container technology is designed to consume less resources than virtualization. Containers are faster since they use the host operating system as the operating system. Today, there are only operating systems that are manufactured or optimized for container technology. It takes seconds to start and stop containers.
- Dev/Ops and software development resource efficiency: Containers provide less operating and development cost because once a containerized system is built, it can be deployed anywhere.
- OS independence: Each application runs isolated in its own container. Since the application is in a container, when it is necessary to move the application, it is possible to take it with all its dependencies and take it into another desired system. In this way, a solution can be created for an application without worrying about which operating system the target user is using.
- Security: Isolation of applications limits the impact of malicious attacks. The attacker’s imprisonment within the isolated area means that attacker cannot switch to the host operating system or other services.
What are containerization use cases?
The speed, efficiency and light weight of the containers are the primary reasons for container use. The most common use cases of the containers:
- Continuous Integration: Containers provide an opportunity to test a database at the same table state many times. traditional virtualization would have to take a significantly longer time to do the same job. Since containers can substantiate in milliseconds, they can run integration tests in minutes.
- Containers as a Service: CaaS is a container-based business model within the cloud computing service. It is provided as a scalable online service. This allows users to use container services without the necessary infrastructure. Caas helps save the cost and effort required to provide the necessary components of hardware and software in order to build a containerization system.
- Application Modernization: Containers bring portability to applications, as well as lower operating costs. This helps enterprises to modernize their applications via containerization with less effort than a complete rewrite of the application.
If you have questions about how containers can help your business, we can help:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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