What Are Containers and Why You Should Consider Using Them

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In the world of technology and integration, a new deployment option is taking the industry by storm: containers. To think about how containers work for software, we have to think about physical shipping containers first. Containers are crucial to the shipping industry because their standard sizes are what keeps the industry running efficiently and streamlined. Before the use of shipping containers, shipping anything worldwide was a laborious pain. Standard size structures have made the process a lot easier.

The same idea is true with software containers. A container is an OS-level virtualization method for deploying and running applications without launching an entire VM for each application. Containers share resources of host OS with other containers, are lighter in weight, and provide greater portability when compared to a VM, which uses isolated resources and requires a full OS to operate. Only application code and its dependencies are packed into a container and can run anywhere. Because they are small, you can run a lot of containers onto a single computer.

According to Gartner, by 2018, more than 50 percent of new workloads will be deployed using containers in at least one stage of the application lifecycle. Today, only about 22 percent of workloads use containers while 31 percent are evaluating switching to containers. Of the 31 percent, 64 percent are hoping to implement them within the next year.

Pros and cons of containers

Containers have four major advantages:

  • Faster deployment
  • Less overhead
  • Easier migration
  • Faster restart

These advantageous attributes are what made cloud applications possible. Containers also enable development of microservices; microservices are developed, deployed and scaled independently and hence containers are a best fit to run microservices. If you need to update your microservice, you can simply create a new container to replace your old one. This allows for faster and error-free software development.

While there are concerns that there is lack of isolation from the host OS, Gartner asserts that applications deployed in containers are more secure than applications deployed on the bare OS — even if a container is cracked, it limits the damage of a successful compromise because applications and users are isolated on a per-container basis so that they cannot compromise other containers or the host OS.

The future of containers

Containers are being implemented by new companies with newer software faster than older and larger companies. However, some of the biggest companies around the world have already moved to a container environment.

With containers, you get to enjoy the flexibility to move between cloud environments without rewriting your applications and with little configuration changes. For more information on containers and how to build applications and integration that can leverage them for your business, check out BusinessWorks Container Edition.