A lightweight method of packaging and deploying applications across different types of infrastructure in a standard way is an operating system virtualization technology used for packaging applications and their dependencies to enable them to run in isolated environments is a container. Containers run consistently on any container-capable host, which is an attractive option for developers and operations professionals where developers can test the same software locally that they will later deploy to full production environments. The container format ensures that the application dependencies are baked into the image itself to simplify the hand-off and release processes. Infrastructure management for container-based systems can be standardized as the hosts and platforms running containers are generic.
Using the same shared OS through which all applications are run in isolated user spaces called containers, a type of virtualization of the operating system is containerization.
The important benefits of containerization are as follows:
Lightweight virtualization: Compared with hardware virtualization with virtual machines, containers are extremely lightweight; they use the host system’s kernel and run as compartmentalized processes within that OS rather than virtualizing all of the hardware resources and running a completely independent operating system within that environment. Containers use a limited amount of resources running like any other process from the perspective of the host and are quick to start and stop. Enabling it to behave as if it was a completely independent operating system, in most circumstances, a subset of the host’s process space and resources can only be viewed and accessed, the container images themselves being very small. A requirement for many fault-tolerant, self-healing distributed systems is the minimal image sizes that enable the workflows that rely on pulling down the latest image at runtime without introducing significant delays.
Environmental isolation: As containers are isolated from both the host environment as also from each other, kernel features such as cgroups and namespaces provide a level of functional confinement to assist or prevent container environments from interfering with one another. Although it is not robust enough to be considered comprehensive security sandboxing, this isolation has benefits. As the host and each container maintain the software in separate filesystems, dependency and library conflicts are easier to avoid.
The networking environments can be separated, and applications inside the container can bind to its native ports without having to worry about conflicting with the software on the host system or in other containers. The administrator can, according to their requirements, then choose to map the container’s networking to the host networks.
A format for standardized packaging and runtime target: The ability of containers to unify and simplify is its most compelling benefit to packaging and deploying software. You can bundle applications together with all of their runtime requirements into a single unit that is deployable across diverse infrastructures allowed by container images. Without the fear of interfering with host system libraries inside of containers, the developers can install and use any libraries their applications require. When the image is created, the dependencies are version locked. Developers do not need to know much about the specific machines where the containers will run because the container runtime acts as a standard, stable deployment platform. As long as the container runtime is operational and adequate system resources are available, the container should run in the same way as it did in the development environment. From an operational perspective, containerization helps standardize the requirements of the deployment environment. Rather than having to provision and maintain unique environments based on the application language, runtime, and dependencies, administrators can focus on maintaining generic hosts that serve as container platforms and allocate pools of resources those machines can access. By building all of the particular application idiosyncrasies within the container, a natural boundary is created between the concerns of the application and that of the platform.
Scalability: By using relatively straightforward mechanisms, the paradigm of the container allows you to scale your applications. The standardized runtime, lightweight image sizes, quick start-up times, and the ability to create, test, and deploy images are the features that are used to build highly scalable systems. How the container images themselves are constructed, and the application architecture determines the scalability of a system and is highly dependent on these. The designs that work well with the container paradigm achieving a good balance of speed, availability, and manageability, are recognized as the strengths of the container format. As decomposing applications into discrete components with a focused purpose makes developing, scaling and updating more straightforward, incredibly popular are containerized environments, service-oriented architectures, and specifically microservices.
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