Picture a moving truck without boxes. Instead, the truck is packed full of loose items. In this scenario, finding anything and unpacking would take hours. If the truck is packed full of labeled boxes, unloading becomes significantly easier.
This example demonstrates a simple idea: Containers make loading and unloading much faster. Our analogy also explains why containerization has become popular in DevOps.
Developers can build and test applications more quickly when they don’t have to wait for a full system installation. That’s where containerization DevOps comes in. In this post, we’ll dive deep into containerization and how this method can benefit developers.
What is containerization in DevOps?
Containerization is a type of virtualization that allows developers to package an application with all its dependencies and ship it as one unit. Containers are isolated from each other, so they can run on the same host without affecting one another. This makes them ideal for microservices, or small, modular applications that can be deployed independently.
There are two main types of containers:
- Linux containers. These types of containers use features built into the Linux kernel to isolate processes from each other.
- Windows containers. This container type uses the Windows Server Container feature to isolate processes from each other.
Linux containers are more popular in DevOps because they’re lighter weight and easier to work with. However, Windows containers can be used in DevOps environments as well.
So, how does containerization work in DevOps?
In a traditional application development process, developers write code and then send it to the operations team to be deployed. This can create a bottleneck because the ops team might not have the capacity to keep up with the pace of development.
With containerization, developers can package their applications into containers and ship them to the ops team for deployment. The ops team can then deploy the containers on a server without having to install or configure anything.
This makes the deployment process much faster and more efficient.
What are the benefits of containerization in DevOps?
There are many benefits of using containers in DevOps. We cover five below.
1. Faster Deployments
Containers can be deployed much faster than traditional applications because there’s no need to install or configure anything. This can help you test and iterate more quickly as a team.
2. More Efficient Use of Resources
Containers are isolated from each other, so they can run on the same host without affecting each other. This makes them more efficient than virtual machines, which require their own dedicated resources.
3. Better Application Compatibility
Containers can run on any platform that supports container runtime, so they’re more portable than traditional applications.
4. Increased Security
Containers isolate processes from each other, so if one container is compromised, the others are unaffected. This can help you ensure that your application is secure.
Containers can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing demands. That may involve adding more containers for complex programs or reducing the number of containers. With scalability, developers can add new features and functions without compromising the original application.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Containerization
If you’re working on an application, you might be wondering if you should use containerization. To help you make an informed decision, we gathered the pros and cons you should consider.
Many of the advantages of containerization are outlined above — including their speed and security. Containers can help your team test and deploy applications quickly. Other advantages include:
- Portability. Containers are portable and can run on any platform that supports container runtime.
- Ease of management. Container orchestration platforms, allow you to automate many of the tasks associated with applications that use containerization. This makes rolling out new app versions, monitoring, and debugging easier.
Before you decide to transition completely over to containers, let’s discuss some of the disadvantages. That includes:
- Security risks. While this method prevents infected containers from compromising others, containerization as a whole required increased security. Containers can also be difficult to debug because they offer limited visibility into the underlying system.
- Orchestration. According to Veritas, you need multiple orchestration tools when working with containers. Meanwhile, you only need one orchestrator for virtual machines.
- Increased complexity. With more containers and layers, there’s more for developers to keep track of. Additionally, not all application components can be containerized, leading to even more complexity.
Examples of Containerized Applications
So we discussed what containerization is and how teams benefit. But how do companies use containers in real-world applications? See three examples below of containerization put to work.
With thousands of titles to stream and a large database to manage, Netflix is one brand that relies on containerization. The company even developed Titus, its own container management platform.
Netflix runs many of its core operations from containers. That includes video streaming, content-encoding, recommendations, and big data. Engineering company Simform says that the company operates up to 200,000 clusters and half-a-million containers per day.
Social media scheduling platform Buffer is another company that makes use of containerization. Different social platforms have different optimized image ratios. In order to manage these differences, Buffer created a modern container orchestration system to help resize images.
Containerization helped the team fix bugs and deploy changes quickly, said Chief Technology Officer Dan Farrelly. That’s one of the many benefits of using containers.
Hotel reservation company Booking.com began the switch to containerization in 2015. Today, the company uses containers to build and deploy new services.
Booking.com developers said creating a new service could take days or weeks before containers, according to a Kubernetes case study. However, after switching to containers and the Kubernetes container orchestration system, the company built 500 new services in the first 8 months on the platform.
Getting Started With Containerization
Containerization is a vital part of the DevOps movement because it enables the rapid deployment of applications. Containers are also becoming more popular in production environments because they offer increased security and scalability.
Start mastering the basics of containerization to keep up with this growing trend.