Why Choose Containerization?
In recent years, containers have been adopted by many organizations. While some other implementations of containers are available, Docker is probably the one you’ve heard of, as it has become the standard containerization platform.
Why use containerization? What are the advantages that have spurred its adoption? Let’s look at some of the factors that govern the choice of containerization.
Docker containers are lightweight units of software that run in isolation on a Docker Engine, which runs on an underlying operating system. Each container has its own networking and file system.
A single Docker container does not fully use an underlying operating system (OS), but makes use of a snapshot or a section of the operating system kernel. In this way, multiple Docker containers may run on the same OS.
A single virtual machine, in contrast, uses a complete operating system per application, and consequently, virtual machines may not be able to use the underlying OS fully, resulting in an underutilized OS system kernel. Infrastructure is better utilized with Docker containers.
Packaging and Dependency Encapsulation
A Docker image packages a complete software solution. A Docker container is an instance of a Docker image, which specifies the software to install, dependencies to install, and commands to run.
A single Docker container encapsulates all the dependencies needed to run an application, thus eliminating the need to install the dependencies separately. Software is easier to install and run using containers.
Developer Speed and Efficiency
Developer speed and efficiency is greatly improved with containerization. Software is easier to package, install, run, and manage.
Docker containers are platform-independent and run the same on all supported platforms of Linux and Windows distributions. Isolating the software from the environment makes software portable across local and cloud platforms.
Monolithic architecture has its limitations in terms of its scope, extensibility, and scalability. Modern applications are typically composed of multiple services that need to be deployed and managed independently but still be able to interact with each other, and a monolithic architecture cannot provide independently deployed services.
Instead, a monolithic architecture requires that all applications or services be deployed as a single unit. With dependencies between services, individual services cannot be scaled or otherwise managed independently in a monolithic architecture.
Containerization has made the microservices architecture feasible with its modular structure. Multiple container-based services may be deployed, scaled, and managed independently of each other and still be able to interact.
Agile software is easier to improve through the employment of continuous refactoring. Containerization, with its support for microservices, decouples the different components of an application and makes it easier to modify or refactor individual components of an application. Code for one service may be iterated, tested, and redeployed independent of another service.
Containers and microservices are easier to scale as compared to monolithic software. As standalone containers are rarely used other than for a small-scale, single-service deployment, container orchestration becomes essential. Several tools and platforms are available for container orchestration to manage the containers’ provisioning, scheduling, networking, and scaling.
Containerization provides several benefits and has fewer drawbacks compared to other forms of application and services deployment. Virtualizing pieces of an operating system through containerization improves resource utilization, making your development and testing more efficient.