Containerization in cloud computing is a technique that packages the application’s code with all the required files and libraries to generate a lightweight executable that we refer to as a container. The container (or containerization) allows the application to run consistently on any infrastructure. This makes containers more portable and resource-efficient than virtual machines. Thus, containers have become the computing unit of modern cloud-based applications.
The containerization technology has existed for a long time in different forms. But the technology has gained popularity with the Linux operating system. Although we have some other open-source platforms that allow us to create containerized applications among which the most popular is Docker. This content will give you a detailed description of containerization in cloud computing.
Containerization in Cloud Computing
- Why Containerization?
- How does Containerization Work?
- How does Containerization Differentiate from Virtualization?
- Types of Container Technology
- Benefit of Containerizations
Conventionally, when the user downloads any application, he/she would have to download a particular version of that application that matches your machine’s operating system. For example, when you download Slack, you have to choose whether you want to download the app for the Windows operating system or for the MAC operating system.
If the application is moved to a machine with a different computing environment with another operating system, it often results in bugs and errors.
To eliminate this problem, containerization packages the application code into a container with all the required files, libraries, and dependencies essential for running. Thus, the container becomes portable and can be moved to any platform or cloud without any issues.
How does Containerization Work?
We know that containerization involves bundling the application code with self-sufficient resources that helps the application run consistently regardless of the platform or device they are running on. But how is this achieved?
The software developers use containerization tools (OCI) to build container images. The container images are nothing but files containing all the necessary information required to run the containerized application consistently on any platform or cloud.
Open Container Initiative (OCI) is an open-source platform that provides a standardized format for creating container images. The container images are the read-only files that any operating system cannot modify.
The container images with application code form a container, the top layer of a containerized system. The next layer is of container engine.
The container engine is nothing but a software program that creates containers by bundling the container images with the application code so that they can run on any platform. A single physical machine can have multiple containers running on it.
How does Containerization Differentiate from Virtualization?
Like containerization, even virtualization allows users to run multiple applications on a single physical computer.
Although the most distinctive feature of containerization is that it does not require the entry of any guest operating system, virtualization requires a full-fledged guest operating system for each virtual machine on the physical computer.
Although containerization and virtualization offer full isolation of applications in a way that they can run independently, virtualization goes through a significant overhead due to the involvement of guest OS which is not the case of containers. For example, a system could easily run 10 or more containers on a single physical computer but might need help to support 2 VMs.
To deploy multiple virtual machines on a single physical computer, the developers require a software program that we refer to as the hypervisor. However, to deploy multiple containers on a single physical computer developer require a software program that we refer a container engine.
Types of Container Technology
Some popular container engine developers used to implement containerization are discussed below:
Docker is an open-source container engine or software platform allowing users to easily develop, test, and deploy containerized applications. The Docker packages the software with all the necessary dependencies for the software to run. These dependencies include libraries, system tools, code, etc., all created within the Docker framework.
Kubernetes is also an open-source software platform that most software developers use to deploy, manage and scale the containerized application. HoeKubernetes automates many of the manual processes involved in containerization.
Linux, we all know, is an open-source operating system that comes with built-in container technology. The containers built on the Linux operating system are self-contained environments allowing multiple Linux-based applications to run on a single Linux machine.
Benefit of Containerizations
Portability – Earlier, an app developed for one platform would not work on some other platform due to the difference in the computing environment of both platforms. But in containerization, the containers have the app code and all their dependencies to run on any platform. Thus, they are portable.
Agility – The containerized applications are agile. As they run in an isolated environment, the software developers can easily troubleshoot the issues in containerized applications. They can change the application code and work on the updates without interfering with the OS, hardware, and other containers on the system.
Efficiency – Containers efficiently use the resources of the physical computer. The containerized applications share the kernel of the host operating system. As they are small in size, a physical machine can accommodate multiple containers on the same computing capacity as a single virtual machine.
Speed – The startup time of the container is faster than the virtual machine. However, the specific startup time may vary from app to app depending on the resources and size of the apps. But, still, they are much faster than VMs.
Fault Isolation – Each containerized application runs in an isolated environment; if any of the containers fail, it will not affect the working of other containers.
Scalability – As we know, containers are lightweight applications that allow developers to add multiple containers on a single physical computer.
Thus, containerization is more efficient than virtual machines but also has some limitations in terms of security, orchestration, monitoring, and data storage. However, the benefits of containerization simply outweigh its limitations.
Therefore, containerization is trending in software development and it allows them to develop and deploy applications securely and faster.