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Technology We’re Thankful For: Containerization


Thanksgiving is approaching and we give thanks for many things — of course, our thoughts and thanks normally go toward our friends, families, health, and prosperity, but can we be thankful for other things?

This holiday season, we’re excited and thankful for containers.

Google and Amazon have made big bets on containers. Microsoft is adopting Docker-based container technology with Microsoft Server 2016.

So, What Are Containers?

Container technology enables applications to be deployed rapidly and operated consistently regardless of the underlying operating system or server hardware. And it’s not a new technology.

Containers have been around in Linux-land for some time, and with Microsoft Server 2016, it’s poised to make inroads in enterprise Windows.

People often compare containers to virtual machines. But whereas virtual machines sit directly on top of the physical servers, containers run on an operating system, say Linux or Windows Server 2016.

A virtual machine contains the complete stack required to run the application, including the entire operating system, plus a virtualization layer that maps to the host server hardware.

A container, on the other hand, is a bundle of the application code with the libraries and system resources it requires, plus a layer — let’s call it the Docker engine — that abstracts, or maps to, the operating system.

While virtual machines can gobble up memory and disk space, containers tend to have a much smaller disk and memory footprint. It’s reported that you can run up to ten times more containerized application on a server than their virtual machine equivalents!

The big value of containers comes in application portability. Think of moving an application from a data center server to the cloud, or perhaps consolidating apps from multiple servers onto a super-sized server. Containerized apps can be moved quickly and safely, independent of the underlying server or operating system. All that’s needed is a Docker engine for that OS.

Keep in mind that Docker is just one variant of IT containerization — although probably the one that’s getting the most publicity. It’s an open source technology, with all the pros and cons that come with open source.

So, Why Be Thankful for IT Containerization?

Well, the first reason is that it’s one of the hottest emerging technologies for the enterprise and that means plenty of job opportunity for IT professionals! (And who’s not thankful for job opportunities?!)

With Google, Amazon, and Microsoft leading the way in endorsing container technologies, there will be a strong demand for IT professionals trained and certified in the field.

DevOps organizations in enterprises such as Goldman Sachs, ING, and Spotify are reportedly already leveraging Docker containers to centralize app builds and streamline deployments.

As application containerization gains traction in the enterprise, and as we enjoy exciting career opportunities, we can give thanks and look forward to:

Simplifying and speeding up the task of developing, testing and deploying applications;

Making those apps more readily portable — especially between physical data centers and the cloud; and

Getting more bang for the buck from hardware investments, through superior application container utilization of server resources.

Want More on Containers?

If you’re Linux-literate and interested in learning more about Docker containers, try Shawn Powers’ CBT Nuggets Docker course, or learn more about Microsoft’s take on the subject with our blog What’s New with Server 2016: Containers.

Finally, if you’re looking to deploy containerized apps to the Google Cloud, the new Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals course is a great starting point and it demonstrates how the Google Container Engine works.

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