what are containers

What are containers, and what are the benefits provided by containers?

One of the many challenges faced by web professionals is how to get their software to run efficiently and reliably while migrating from one IT environment to another. Now, this migration could be from a developer’s laptop to a testing environment, staging to a production environment or even a cloud environment. Obstacles surface when supporting software environment (or even the network topology for that matter) of the two is not the same. In such situations, containers are a viable option.

What are containers?

A container is a packaging mechanism in which applications can be separated from the environments in which the applications actually run. This packaging approach, also known as decoupling, allows container-based applications to be easily deployed, irrespective of the target environment’s nature i.e. data center, public cloud, private cloud, developer’s laptop. Containerization facilitates clear and secure separation of applications since developers can now focus on its logic and dependencies without bothering about nitty-gritties like software versions and specifications.

Is virtualization similar to containerization?

As far as virtualization is concerned, an entire operating system that consists of the application is run as a single package. So, if three applications had to run simultaneously, there would be three separate operating systems running on top of it.

However, if a developer were to run containerized applications and a single operating system, then each container would end up sharing the kernel with other containers within the system. Which is why container systems are light-weight and use fewer resources than virtual machines.

Now that we have understood ‘what are containers’, let us look into the benefits of containers and why are enterprises, both big and small, making the most out of cloud applications with container systems.

What are the benefits of containers while hosting applications in the cloud?

As web professionals, you might have employed cloud hosting at some point in time. But not many know how containers act as a catalyst in boosting the performance of applications that are hosted in the cloud. Moreover, container systems are compatible with cloud hosting packages that offer CEPH storage as well as Varnish caching. These features allow container systems to operate faster without facing scalability issues. ResellerClub’s cloud packages have taken these factors into consideration and hence facilitate these two major components that boost the performance of container systems. So, going ahead, let us look at some of the benefits of using containers in cloud hosting environments, shall we?

1. Containers can be replicated
Building applications is a task. More so if these applications need a lot of infrastructural support. This dominoes into an effect where costs start increasing and no matter what size the organization has, as a web professional, the vision for your application goes for a toss.

But, not if you have containers that can be integrated with applications in the hosting environment. Allow us to tell you why: container systems are packages that can be deployed away from the operating system, machines and also from the code. Which is why containers can be moved not only within the cloud easily but also to other platforms and hosting environments. This flexibility (portability rather) enables applications to be scaled across various cloud hosting environments. This attribute has made container systems a trusted tool for enterprises across various segments.

2. Containers have a unique way of ensuring cloud security
Since containers are separated across IT or cloud environments, they do not interact with each other. However, they end up securing their own activities and protecting the application from virus attacks. Let us see how – if a container gets attacked (unless they are left unprotected), the applications in other containers do not get affected. They continue operating at the set pace. Moreover, if multiple containers are attacked, the application itself can be put on hold. You can stop the application from running at a set speed in one container without affecting the speed of the whole container series. This is a huge benefit provided by container systems.

3. Developers can improve their productivity with container systems
Containers enable applications to function locally. This absence of environmental inconsistencies simplifies testing and debugging for developers since there are few differences in terms of running apps on the workstation, test server or any production environment. Even if as a web professional one were to update these applications, the process would be the same: modifying the configuration file, creating new containers and destroying the old ones in a matter of seconds. The total time taken to execute these actions is reduced considerably as compared to what developers would do otherwise. Hence, the huge jump in productivity.

4. Overall agility of the cloud environment receives a big boost
Containers do not disturb the cloud environment they are hosted on because they can be isolated. Now, this isolation allows an application in one container to run at a speed slower or faster than the application in another container. This decoupling of container systems benefits developers and deployers in many ways. For one, containers remain consistent across the IT environment. And secondly, they are quick when it comes to managing and updating the applications. Since the speed of an application in one system is independent of each other, the applications can run smoothly, boosting the overall speed of the cloud environment.

It doesn’t stop here. Containers facilitate platform independence, resource efficiency and operational simplicity. This is only possible when a good cloud hosting environment is supported by an operating system that updates itself consistently. Containers also operate with the same efficiency in multi-cloud environments. But to ensure that they perform well, you need to deploy a sound multi-cloud strategy with a roadmap to mitigate security risks.

Here is hoping that you have enjoyed reading ‘What are containers and what are the benefits of containers?’ If you have understood the benefits of using containers, you can leave your feedback in the comments section below.

Sagar Kulkarni

Sagar Kulkarni

Digital enthusiast and movie buff