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Container Technology

You’ve heard the term but why are they important to the future of cloud services? Here’s what you should know…

What is container technology?

Containers wrap up a piece of software in a complete file system that contains everything it needs to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – anything you can install on a server. This guarantees that it will always run the same, regardless of the environment it is running in. This means that developers are looking to build distributed applications that deliver an always-on service application, available from anywhere and on any device.

How long have containers been around?

Containers date back to around 1999 when several concepts were built on both close and open source platforms. Oracle, Google, Parallels, and Docker. It was built into Linux in the form of LXC over 10 years ago. The technology exploded once Dockers containers created a packaging system with sandbox runtime that provided more certainty for developers.

Why is container technology so popular?

Container technology was once a thing, back in the 90’s… In the past few years, containers have become the hottest trend in open source development. In an excerpt from ZDNet, according to Docker founder Solomon Hykes, “Users expect online applications to behave like the Internet. They are “always on and globally available. For developers, that’s a big problem. They must now figure out how to decouple their applications from the underlying hardware and run it on multiple machines anywhere in the world.”

What will containers replace?

Prior to containers, the software ran mostly on multiple file systems in virtual machines. This means that each virtual machine must run its own operating system image for each instance. The approach has become an unnecessary heavyweight for avoidable overhead and waste. Although containers will replace some virtual machines, VMs will still be a major player in development technologies for years to come.

What are the two major problems with Virtual Machines?

(1) Running a whole separate operating system to get a resource and security isolation and (2) slow startup time while waiting for the operating system to boot. The operating system often consumes more memory and disk than the actual application.

How does container technology benefit the end user?

When your app is in containers, you don’t have to worry about setting up and maintaining different environments or different tooling for each language. Containers start so fast that many configurations can launch on-demand as requests come in. Containers also consume way less than virtual machines because they don’t need an operating system and system image for each instance.

What’s next for container technology?

Adoption rates are already phenomenal. They will continue to increase as functionality with platforms such as Docker grow and are capable to do more for developers.

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