Containers: What Are They and How Can They Benefit Your Business?

Expanding a company’s online or mobile app offerings, or providing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to clients, involves careful consideration of the technologies to be used. To this end, IT personnel, end users and business owners will have their unique set of selection criteria. While IT experts prioritise user-friendly options, end users value flexibility and dependability, and corporate owners aim for cost efficiency.

Containers meet all the above-mentioned criteria and more – they are application and service bundles that are self-contained, easily scalable, and can be updated as required by the user. A great advantage of containers is their ability to transfer programmes from a development to a production environment where different versions of the same library may be in use, or when compatibility issues arise between compiler or loader on different machines. The following sections will delve into the applications, advantages and implementation details of container technology.

Classification of Containers

Containers provide a seamless transition for applications when shifting from one computing environment to another, without the need for modification to suit any new hardware or software. Containers are the foundation of Kubernetes, which enables deployment of multiple containers to various hosts. The use of containers may also lead to cost savings for companies since they can be deployed using a virtual platform, allowing for a reduction in the number of apps and services required.

For large organisations, the creation of virtualised computing environments is often achieved using Virtual Machines (VMs) which are sometimes confused with containers. Utilising VMs enables installation of multiple operating systems (OS) on a single server, which leads to an increase in efficiency. Distribution of hardware resources, including processor time, memory, storage space and network bandwidth, to each VM is managed by a hypervisor.

Unlike virtual machines (VMs) which require the use of a separate operating system, containers make use of the host operating system’s resources to run programmes along with their necessary dependencies. The video below explains the dissimilarities between containers and VMs in greater detail.

Since their inception as part of the UNIX chroot in the 1970s, containers have evolved tremendously. Currently, containers are anticipated to be implemented in the operations of 20% of businesses globally by 2023. Moreover, analysts predict that at least two containerised applications will be executed by over 70% of enterprises by the same year.

Benefits of Containers

Container technology provides a cost-effective solution mainly because most essential components are available for free. For instance, the host operating system, VirtualBox, and the application deployment tool, Docker, can be obtained free of charge. However, some businesses may adopt different choices or incur additional costs for a more comprehensive implementation. Nonetheless, minimal resources are required for container environment set up.

Deploying and scaling websites using containerisation has no negative impact on other programmes or services running on the host server. This feature facilitates the integration of new web-based features to an existing online catalogue without reconfiguring the hosting machine. Since containers are self-contained, there is no risk of applications or services within the container causing disruption to the host machine. Administrators can be confident that their applications will remain secure.

The Use of Storage Bins

Alibaba Cloud recently published a blog post outlining some common container applications, including:

  • Technology that relies on independent modules.

    Microservices deployment and administration needs to be managed separately because containers divide their workloads, enabling independent deployment and scaling.
  • Integration with numerous cloud services.

    Containers enable simple and speedy application deployment on several cloud platforms, as well as the capacity to migrate hybrid and multi-cloud solutions between on-premise and cloud environments.
  • Multi-tenancy.

    In a multi-tenant configuration, several clients can access a single instance. This efficient and lightweight design allows for easy setup in just a few seconds.
  • Increased development productivity and speedy application creation.

    During development, developers can use containerisation to test preliminary versions of their applications. This architecture enables developers to concentrate on enhancing the product rather than wasting time configuring the environment or troubleshooting issues.
  • Straightforward setup and integration with DevOps.

    By including the relevant settings within the code itself, containers enable users to deploy code with ease. This streamlined CI/CD pipeline is beneficial for DevOps and other settings that need frequent development and deployment.

Correct Storage Techniques for Containers

For those seeking to comprehend containers, it is advised that they become aware of Linux, the JSON format for creating container manifests, and the Kubernetes platform for container management. Additionally, tools such as Docker and Podman are valuable to have. To begin deploying containers, the next step is to confirm that Docker is installed and operational. Additional guidance can be found on the Cloud Native Wiki.

  • Opt for the best available components.

    Smaller group sizes allow for improved unit coordination.
  • Opt for disposable components.

    Whenever possible, create lightweight, stateless containers.
  • Implement security measures for containers.

    Ensuring the security of the entire container ecosystem is of utmost importance.
  • Employing container orchestrators is wise.

    Kubernetes is a popular and free open source option.
  • Establish an automated process flow system.

    With automation, iterating and making modifications can be accomplished quickly.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC) for Computing Systems.

    With IaC, infrastructure components can be defined declaratively in files, enabling automated processes.
  • Adopt an agile approach to code development.

    With the help of agile methodologies employed by dedicated teams, the development lifecycle can be streamlined.
  • Promoting a self-service model for developers.

    The capacity for teams to independently provide their projects is crucial.

Does Your Organization Require Containers?

Your business may benefit from containers if you have any of the following requirements:

  • Velocity.

    With containers, you can quickly create a new one, replicate an existing one, or even entirely delete one.
  • Scalability.

    With containers, you can quickly deploy and remove multiple copies of the same program, making it ideal for scaling up or down.
  • Portability.

    Our system must be able to operate on every platform, including Linux, Windows, macOS, virtual machines, bare-metal servers, and developer laptops.
  • Optimise resource utilisation.

    Containers, being lighter than virtual machines, enable a single server to handle a larger number of instances.
  • Productivity.

    Developers’ designed runtime environments are dependable and constant, regardless of where they are launched, increasing productivity.

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