What are containers?
Containers can be thought of as little packages containing an application, along with the settings and storage needed to run the application. Although cloud containers are designed to run a single, isolated application or service, they can be clustered together and easily scaled.
Cloud containers are gaining a lot of popularity and rapidly being adopted as many technology companies are considering them as an alternative to Virtual Machines (VMs) that were traditionally used for enterprise workloads. Containerization is the process of containerizing an application with all its relevant software dependencies and libraries that enable developers to deploy software more efficiently and much faster.
Docker, the most popular containerization platform, made it easier to scale cloud containers and break complex monolithic applications into smaller, modular microservices. Docker also had the advantages of being open source and coinciding with an increased demand for agility, flexibility, and scalability in software delivery.
While Kubernetes is an opensource container and orchestration platform used to deploy modern applications that are scalable, modular, and fault tolerant. You declare the state you need your environment to be in and it constantly works to maintain that state, which frees developers from manual tasks around infrastructure management. Kubernetes makes it easier to automate and scale large container workloads.
The explosion of container adoption over the last few years has brought with it a wave of container-related products and services from the industry’s leading cloud providers. For example, AWS has two fully managed container services, namely Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a highly available, secure, and fully managed Kubernetes service. With AKS, Azure users can unify their development and operations teams on a single platform to rapidly build, deliver, and scale their containerized applications. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) provides a managed environment for deploying, managing, and scaling containerized applications using Google infrastructure.
Benefits of containers and how they differ from VMs
Now that we have seen what cloud containers are, let’s look at some of its benefits when compared to the traditional Virtual Machines. Both containers and VMs are used to improve CPU and memory utilization on physical machines.
Unlike VMs, containers don’t need a full Operating System to be installed in every instance, and they can efficiently function with the least number of resources which makes them lightweight and easier to manage as compared to VMs. Containers are faster to load, and they can be spawned in seconds and run-on top of a single VM of the host OS. Since containers are more portable than VMs, they can be deployed easily, and they are quite ideal for hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Containers can be run anywhere regardless of environment, be it public cloud or even a private data center.
Containers are faster to load and cheaper to run because container host environments are consistent. Also, because they share the same host kernel, they are much less expensive to deploy than VMs and use less memory as compared to VMs.
Here are some of the most seen use-cases across businesses as they adopt containerization especially in cloud environments.
- Accelerate software development and DevOps adoption
- As applications shift to a more cloud-native environment, containers are being used to modernize applications on a massive scale so that they can be migrated to the cloud. And with development teams embracing more agile methods, containers are a perfect way to provide support for a continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) model as it simplifies the process of building, testing, and deployment. Containers support DevOps teams by enabling faster development, test, and production cycles.
- Microservices are self-contained services that can be managed independently. Hence, complex applications can be built using individual container blocks that provides better isolation and scalability when required.
- Containers make it easy to run multiple instances of an application on different tenants that provides a more lightweight option and easier-to-scale deployment solution when compared to VMs.
- Hybrid and multi-cloud deployment
- Businesses are often considering multi-cloud environments for better cost optimization and improved efficiency; containers seem to be an ideal architecture to deploy workloads in a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud scenario.
CloudHealth Container Reporting and other resources
With the increased use of containers, maintaining visibility and governance in a dynamic environment can be a challenge. CloudHealth offers Container Reporting, which gives customers visibility into their Kubernetes and container environments and helps identify areas for optimization to visualize cost trends. As an example, CloudHealth’s Containers Cost History Report can be used to visualize cost trends in aggregate and per cluster and namespace
Learn how CloudHealth can help you optimize your container environment and start making more strategic decisions around cost allocation and driving accountability.