Containerization is the new buzzword in the software industry, from articles about how Google has moved all their applications to containers, to Microsoft partnering with Docker, the world’s leading software container platform. Although a buzzword, containerization is a key concept that should be on the top of every software developers mind.
Put simply, a container is an isolated environment that runs on a host and consists of an entire application, all its dependencies, libraries and other binaries. These self-contained systems are small, efficient, and solve a whole host of issues when moving and deploying applications in a different environment and machine. Containers may sound a lot like virtual machines, but because a container shares the host operating system’s kernel, they only take up a faction of the memory a virtual machine would and can boot up in just a few seconds.
The size and speed are not the only benefits of using containers, applications become truly portable with containers. This means that developers can focus on writing code without worrying about the system on which their code runs. Containers also offer greater modularity and make it easy to run multiple versions or instances of the same program and/or service. These features are great for setting up local development environment when you lack the local resources to run multiple or large scale virtual machines.
Containerization isn’t a new concept. The idea dates back to as early as 1979 when the UNIX operating system introduces chroot, which could be used to create a separate virtualized copy of the host system. In 2008 LXC, LinuX Containers, was introduced and was the first containerization model that resembles current container software. The most widely used containerization software, Docker, was released as an open-source project in 2013 and built on top of the previous technology, LXC. It has become the standard for modern container software.
With the rapid growth of containers, the ecosystem of containerization technology has rapidly grown. Google has become a big player in the container world with its Kubernetes platform. Microsoft has partnered with Docker to bring Docker containers to their windows operating system. If you haven’t already modernized your application infrastructure with containers, now is the time. The future of containers is looking bigger and brighter.