Every business focuses on increasing agility and productivity in delivering the software, applications, and new functionalities to their end-users. With the digital transformation, everything from application creation to deployment has extended its pace in the market.
The need to deploy new and advanced technology within the meantime and ensuring excellent quality are at their peak. The solution to this problem requires great tools and smooth handling of infrastructure.
With containers, you can ensure that the development team is provided with a platform to create a test system working exactly like the production environment.
What are Containers?
Containers offer operating system-level virtualization. A container allows you to isolate your software, microservices, or an extensive application from other containers running in the same environment.
Using a container, you can place all the required files, binary codes, executable files, and dependencies required to run a particular application without relying on the underlying infrastructure. Container isolates the applications from the underlying environment.
This decoupling ensures that the applications can be efficiently deployed on any platform, whether on-premises or cloud. It helps the developers to focus on the development part and IT operations to focus on deploying applications without getting into the system details.
Unlike virtual machines, containers do not come with images of the operating system. This makes containers more reliable, light-weight, and portable, causing less system and resource overhead.
Containers are smaller entities than VM that make the same easily deployable. If you are working on large applications, you can deploy multiple containers as a single container or a cluster of containers. Handling various containers may be difficult if you do not use a proper container orchestration tool, like Kubernetes.
Features of Containers
A container allows you to create, test, and deploy applications on various platforms and environments. They offer numerous features. Some of the most important ones are mentioned below:
- Containers require less overhead as they consume fewer resources as compared to the traditional virtual machine. Also, containers do not work on the OS images like virtual machines.
- Helps in increasing the portability as it enables you to run applications within different containers without relying on the system specifications. Also, you can deploy single or multiple containers on various and different operating systems and hardware platforms.
- You can integrate the DevOps pipeline process with containers. Even you can create containers for various software phases and can deploy them individually on production. With containers, you can run the same application with the same results on different platforms. It helps in providing consistent deployment operations.
- As containers are small entities with small application fragments that can be deployed in a faster and efficient way.
- Containers support the DevOps software development lifecycle that enhances productivity throughout the different phases.
Why Use Containers?
Containerization is the latest and ongoing preferred technology if you are working on a cloud platform. Irrespective of your business size, containers allow you to improve and enhance the entire application lifecycle management by implementing CI/CD.
Using containers prevents the vendor lock-in situation by offering features that are compatible with different platforms and allow vendors to go for any cloud-native platform that can easily accommodate containers.
The container has become the foundation for the private cloud and has improved the working for many organizations. With a private cloud, you can have your choice of security, control over resources, along with using multiple cloud services at your disposal. Containers help organizations with some use-cases to reflect their requirements to run applications:
- Helps in modernizing the existing applications.
- Allows creating new cloud-native enterprise applications.
- Lets you maintain a data center to work with cloud services.
- Allows you to refactor the existing applications for containers.
- Can be integrated with DevOps for a better CI/CD process.
- Allows you to deploy the same task repeatedly.
- Helps in supporting the microservice architecture.
Benefits of using Containers
1. Platform Independence
Container bundles the application along with all relatable files and dependencies that create a complete and isolated unit. You can run this unit anywhere and on any platform. Containers ensure efficient portability to run the applications whether on the local system, cloud, physical servers, testing, staging, or environment.
This portability benefits the organization by speeding up the application development process. You can even transfer the container from one platform to another efficiently as per changing business needs.
To run containers, you do not require a separate operating system as it shares the underlying OS kernel to run the applications. It results in less resource consumption.
Unlike virtual machines, containers are smaller entities containing a small part of the application with required files that take up less space and resources to deploy it. Container maximizes the hardware utilization, thus saving bare-metal, infrastructure, and data center costs.
3. Effective Resource Sharing
You can run multiple containers hosting on the same server and sharing the same resources, hardware without interacting with each other. If any of the containers fail, it will not hamper the working of other containers working in the same environment. This type of isolation saves your container from security threats.
Attacking one container will not get the hackers through other working containers. You can also update or upgrade the system within the peak time without impacting the productivity of the applications running within containers.
4. Ensures Great Speed
Unlike VMs, you do not have to boot the operating system to start or run a container as containers are light-weight. You can build, test, deploy, and redeploy containers within seconds. This is why many organizations are looking forward to integrating the container approach within their DevOps process to improve the development process.
With containers, you can deploy new extensions to the existing applications faster and efficiently. Once the productivity has increased, you will get a better response from your customers for better advancement. It will make the process quicker and smoother.
5. Dynamic Scaling
One of the key benefits of using a container is its horizontal scaling. The containerized environment allows you to add more containers within a cluster or independent of scaling out.
Containers allow you to run real-time applications to save you the resource cost and provide you better returns on your investment. With containers running on the cloud, you only have to pay for the resources you are using.
6. Improves Developer Efficiency and Development Cycle
Any business can leverage containers for improving productivity throughout the DevOps process as containers do not depend on the underlying infrastructure and will run the same on every platform.
With such independence, the debugging and testing process becomes more comfortable and consumes less time and effort of the developers. It allows the developers to focus more on the development part without going into the system details. You can implement a container approach with available tools like Docker and platforms like Kubernetes.
7. Cost-effective Approach
The container offers a cost-effective approach, as you have to pay for the used services and resources only. You can scale up and scale down the containers as per business needs to save you cost in real-time. You can reduce efforts and overheads by using containers that can be shared over another platform efficiently.
Challenges of Containers
As the benefits of containers are increasing, it also comes with some challenges for IT organizations. Below are some challenges:
- It may be difficult to design and maintain the container templates.
- Difficulty in adapting and expanding existing models.
- Adhering to the security policies.
- Difficulty in integrating with the existing DevOps pipeline.
- Integrating new technologies to manage the containerized environment.
- Going for the right tool from a pool of tools.
Whatever business size you have, you will always tend to focus on providing agility and improved performance to enhance the customer experience. Today every enterprise is adopting container technology for the enhanced development process.
This article will help you get in-depth into the benefits of containers, their features, and use- cases. Once you understand why containers are essential for your enterprise, you will implement them immediately.
The container is a light-weight entity that will make life easy for developers by automating the software development process from development to deployment.