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Container Technology – A Quick Introduction

Container Technology – A Quick Introduction

What is Containerization?

Containers, the biggest innovation in the shipping industry, have standardized dimensions so that they can be loaded and unloaded, stacked, transported efficiently over long distances, and transferred from one mode of transport to another.

Taking a cue from this, think of a server as a ship and an application as a crate. A couple of decades ago, only one app could be deployed on one operating system meaning, a single crate on a single ship. If you wanted to deploy more apps, you needed as many numbers of servers or, more crates-more ships. About a decade ago, the virtualization technology came on the scene. It used hypervisor software that could split up the server so that it could host more than one operating system. That gave the server the option of hosting more than one application. However, it still had only one application per OS. So, just about 3 or 4 crates on one ship.

More on Container Technology

Container technology enables enterprises to put apps in a container and multiple containers can run on a single OS. That makes the servers much more efficient and it makes deploying apps faster. Imagine stacking multiple containers on a single OS and, not just that, but many such OS’ on your server just like a cargo ship with containers stacked one over another.

When you move from one computing environment to another, containers are a solution to the problem of how to get your software to run reliably. There could be a number of things that can create a problem when moving, such as the security policies being different or the storage being different. How, then, do containers solve this problem?

Containers abstract the application platform, its dependencies and the underlying infrastructure. In a nutshell, a container bundle into a package of the entire runtime environment, the application, plus all its libraries, binaries and configuration files needed to run it. In contrast to the virtualization technology where the VM includes an entire OS as well as the app, the physical server running three VMs would have a hypervisor and three OS running on top of it, a server running three containerized apps with Docker would have a single OS and each container shares the OS kernel with other containers. This makes containers much more lightweight and uses fewer resources than virtual machines.

Containers are Light

Containers are so lightweight that containerized applications can be started almost instantly. This implies that not only can they be instantiated quickly, but they can also stop functioning when no longer needed, freeing up resources on their host.

Another important feature of containerization is that you can split applications into modules (such as database, front-end, and so on). Applications built this way are easier to manage because of the modularity. A container produces something known as an image and images are deployed by a container onto a chosen host. The most widely used platform to do this is Docker. 

Containerization is the way to go on the intermodal technology path. 

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