Are your company currently running online applications in a virtual environment? If so, then the way you develop and deploy your applications can be revolutionized with container technology. Unfortunately, container technology is widely misunderstood. Does your organization avoid the use of container-based applications due to security concerns – or because your current setup seems to meet your needs? You might miss a great opportunity to reach a wider audience with your company’s digital offering.
Container technology: the foundation
If you have ever been involved in the development of a complex application, you know that many things can go wrong if the development and production environments differ. Changing the operating system, library dependencies, hardware configuration, or network infrastructure can cause an application to behave unexpectedly. One way around this problem is to add an abstraction layer. If the application is running on a virtual machine, the operating environment of the application remains the same. The problem with virtual machines, however, is that they do not scale so easily. Virtual machines start up slowly and weaken the resources of the host machine.
Suppose you could instead create a distribution package that contains an application and all its dependencies. This is precisely the container technology. A container runs reliably without virtualization because it contains all the dependencies necessary for a smooth functioning. The only thing you need is an operating system that is compatible with container technology.
Now that you’ve learned more about what container technology really is, you should know these five things about container technology.
1. Containers are safer than ever
Some companies have not yet used Docker and other container technologies because they believe that exposing a server’s host operating system to the dangers of the Internet is a poor security practice. When an application is running on a virtual machine, the host computer is hidden under an abstraction layer, protecting it from hacker attacks and malware. However, the fact is that containers are pretty safe. Docker and other container technology companies have improved container safety by adding digital signatures, real-time security audits, and other protection features. If a container has a security vulnerability, you will learn it before a hacker can exploit it.
2. Containers are made for scaling
If your business currently uses virtual machines for its online applications, then you know that virtual machines are hard to scale because of their high resource requirements. Running multiple virtual machines behind a hypervisor can slow down a server significantly. Moving your infrastructure to the cloud gives you access to an infinite number of resources – but switching to the cloud does not change the fact that virtual machines start up very slowly. The container technology is, by comparison, a lightweight. Multiple containers can run simultaneously on one server – and since containers start up almost immediately, they can only be activated when needed. Whether you run your application on a single server, in a traditional data center, or in a cloud environment, switching from virtual machines to containers will dramatically increase the scalability of the application.
3. The Container Technology is perfect for DevOps
If your business is considering deploying DevOps, switching to container technology can speed the transition. Container technology is ideal for a microservice based architecture, where each of the application functions has its own container. Adding or changing application features becomes child’s play as only the associated container needs to be changed; it is not necessary to test, compile and deploy the entire application just to make a small change. However, you will find that switching to a container-based architecture requires extensive training of your developers and administrators. Some companies are delaying the use of DevOps until their developers are well versed in container technology.
4. Container Technology does not replace your existing online strategy
You should consider container technology as a way to improve, not replace, your existing online strategy. For example, you can add containers to your existing cloud infrastructure without having to replace something that you’ve built up for so long. You prefer the security and convenience of virtual machines, and you do not want to expose a host computer to the dangers of the Internet? You can also use containers as part of a hybrid strategy by running them on virtual machines. Both VMware and Microsoft distribute software that supports container management in virtual environments. While you will lose some of the performance benefits of container technology, you will have more security.
5. Container, a technology of long duration
Whether you like or not, containers offer such immense benefits that would be a big drawback for your business. Many of the world’s most important technology companies – such as IBM, Google, HP, Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, Oracle, and others – have jointly created an industry-standard container format to allow third-party developers to focus on developing technologies that make containers safer and simplify their handling. Containers are perfect for software developers because these are not tested software. Also for companies, whose applications must withstand a high user demand, containers are perfectly suitable. A container stats up in a fraction of a second and quickly shut down when needed. Whether your business needs to serve an online audience of millions of users or become more agile through the use of DevOps, switching to container technology is the perfect solution.
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