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Containers – The New Way to Package and Architect Applications


Containers are gaining momentum in the IT industry like never before. The ease of deployment and the implementation security that these provide is one of the key factors in making them the preferred ones. Containers let an application have standalone components within itself; the very concept of a microservices, which makes the application secure, scalable, robust and hence, highly dependable.
Containers are definitely, a streamlined way to build, test, deploy, and redeploy applications on multiple environments. They have proved to be a solution to the problem of how to get software to run reliably when it has been moved from one computing environment to another. Containers are causing a structural change in the cloud-computing world as developers are embracing the technology and organizations are adopting it much fast. Containers are beneficial for an organization as they characterize Less Overhead, Increased Portability, More Consistent Operation, Greater Efficiency, Better Application Development.

Container Benefits

  • Portability – A container is able to wrap an application up with everything it needs to run, like configuration files and dependencies. This enables you to run applications on different environments for instance, your local desktop, physical servers, virtual servers, testing and public or private clouds.
  • Resource Efficiency – Since containers do not require a separate operating system, they use up less resources and have a higher utilization level.
  • Greater Speed – Containers are lightweight and start in less than a second as they do not require an operating system boot. To create, replicate or destroy containers also, does not take much time, thus greatly speeding up the development process, the time to market and the operational speed.
  • Smooth Scaling and Operational Simplicity – With smart and smooth scaling, you only run the containers needed in real time. You are also able to reduce your resource costs drastically and accelerate your ROI. Containers simplify your operations as it is more convenient to manage your host system and quickly apply updates and security patches.
  • Efficient Operation – With containers you can run more applications and specify the right amount of resources which should be used, thereby ensuring their optimization.
  • Easy Deployment and Configuration – Containers simplifies and speeds up the process of any deployment operation and configuration and facilitates the distribution on different operating systems.
  • Process Isolation – Application isolation provides developers with exactly what they need to deploy by avoiding dependencies. It also improves security by setting apart each of an application’s major processes into a separate container.
  • Increased Overall Productivity – Containers enable you to save time and resources by addressing most of the challenges that they face with traditional virtualization. They allow the development environment to be as fast as possible for interactive use and provide a fast feedback loop, where developers can alter the source code from the platforms they want to use.

Let’s have a look at some of the most popular use cases for containers:

    1. Microservices or Distributed Applications

      Containers are basically a standardized unit of software which means that each container will have all infrastructure-as-code, libraries, configurations, and internal dependences in a single package code. These distributed applications when put together make a complete application. For example, we can have separate containers for our webserver, application server, message queue, and backend workers. In such an architecture, scaling up or scaling down becomes a cakewalk because of the independent nature of all the components that the application is composed of.
      Each component of our application can be made from different container images. Docker containers provide process isolation allowing you to run and scale different components side by side regardless of the programming language or libraries running in each container.

    2. Hybrid Cloud

      In today’s industry, clients tend to avoid cloud vendor lock-in. One of the greatest benefits of containers is its portability which allows clients to have a multi cloud platforms. It lets them describe and deploy the template of a system in seconds, with all code, dependency and configurations in a single package. This means that the Docker file can be deployed on virtually any system across AWS, VMware, Cisco, etc.

    3. Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment

      We can use containers for continuous integration and deployment because Docker provides a system for image versioning. We can setup our build process to pull our code from a repository, build it, package it into a Docker image, and push the newly created image into an image repository. We can then have our deployment process pull the new image from our repository, test the application, and deploy to our production servers. We can avoid having an application that works on our development environment but fails in production because the Docker daemon is the same across your development, staging, and production machines.

    4. Sync between various environments

      As previously discussed, Docker daemon is the same across our development, staging, and production machines which provides consistency across environments. Generally, there are always minor differences between environments in development and release lifecycles, unless we have our own private repository environment with tight checks in place. These differences may be because of different package versions or dependencies. Nevertheless, Docker can address that gap by ensuring consistent environments from development to production. Docker containers are configured to maintain all configurations and dependencies internally. As a result, we can use the same container from development to production making sure there are no discrepancies or manual intervention.

    5. Environment Standardization and Version Control

      Docker containers ensure consistency across multiple development and release cycles, standardizing our environment. On top of that, Docker containers work just like GIT repositories, allowing us to commit changes to our Docker images and version control them. If we perform a component upgrade that breaks our whole environment, it is very easy to roll back to a previous version of the Docker image.

    6. Security

      Docker ensures that applications that are running on containers are completely segregated and isolated from each other, granting you complete control over traffic flow and management. No Docker container can look into processes running inside another container. From an architectural standpoint, each container gets its own set of resources ranging from processing to network stacks. Additionally,  Docker images  that are available on Docker Hub are digitally signed to ensure authenticity. Since Docker containers are isolated and resources are limited, even if one of our applications is hacked, it won’t affect applications that are running on other Docker containers.

Container Adoption

Leveraging the Power of Enterprise Containers are one of the popular buzzwords in the IT world. Start-ups, SME as well as institutions are adopting container technology at a fast rate. They are easy and lightweight and ensure agility in business. Containers are known to accelerate the development process, improve scalability and reduce expenditure. By leveraging containerized orchestration tools, one facilitates automated development and rollbacks and backups. You are able to move from test environment to production in just one click while ensuring load balancing and service healing. Containers are consistent, cost effective and provide documentation benefits. They offer an easy-to-use, lightweight solution for businesses to consolidate and manage applications

Anam Fatima, Business Analyst, RapidValue

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