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Community Blog What Are Containers Technology and How to Choose Your Container Platform?

What Are Containers Technology and How to Choose Your Container Platform?

This article explains what containers are and a strategy to help choose your container platform.

By Alain Francois

As a developer, system, or database administrator, you can have a current working configuration (code, deployment, etc.) that is not working on another system. Every person working in IT has faced this situation at least once during their career or labs moments. It can happen because of the slightest difference between the two environments (software or library version, security policy, storage, etc.) Then, containers came as a solution to get an application running reliably when moving from one computing environment to another.

What Is A Technology Container?

What is a technology container? containers consist of an entire runtime environment, providing a lightweight, immutable infrastructure for application packaging and deployment. This means you have the application with all its dependencies, libraries and binaries, and configuration files needed to run it, all bundled into one unique package. Containerizing the application platform and its dependencies help abstract away all the differences in OS distributions and underlying infrastructure.

Container virtualizes the underlying OS, so container technology share the host OS, and they don’t need to boot an OS or load libraries. It causes the containerized app to perceive that it has the OS with CPU, memory, file storage, and network connections included.

Container Technology Platform

Container technology has become very popular over time. This excessive growth has caused a big challenge when managing containerized applications, causing the creation of many container platform technologies to handle that service. Container technology platforms try to offer additional capabilities services for container architectures, such as automation, orchestration, governance, and security.

LXC

Cloud container technology is not new and has been built as LXC for Linux Containers many years ago. It is a solution for virtualizing software at the operating system level within the Linux kernel that uses cgroups and Linux namespaces. Cgroups permit the limitation and prioritization of resources, and Namespace permits total isolation of the application’s view of the operating environment. However, only Linux containers can be executed under LXC.

Docker

Docker is an open-source platform from the Moby Project that helps package the applications into containers and automate the deployment. You can deliver the application quickly since you can separate your applications from your infrastructure. Docker offers two versions: Docker Community Edition (CE) and Docker Enterprise Edition (EE). Docker CE is available in the Docker Store and can run on Debian, macOS, CentOS, Windows 10, and cloud platforms. Docker EE is the premium version of Docker CE for enterprises.

Container Orchestration

Container orchestration helps automate the deployment, management, scaling, and networking of containers. This includes the container's lifecycle with provisioning, load balancing, and more.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source technology developed by Google to make orchestrating containerized applications easier. You can monitor and manage container lifecycles with Kubernetes in more complex environments by scheduling and automating tasks integral to the management of container-based architectures. This includes container deployment, updates, service discovery, storage provisioning, load balancing, and more. There is no need to create master and workers nodes. You can indicate how many times you would like to replicate a service and if it should start automatically.

Alibaba Cloud offers [Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK)] to provide high-performance management services for containerized applications. It offers three cluster types:

  • Dedicated Kubernetes cluster where you create the normal Kubernetes infrastructure with master and worker nodes
  • Managed Kubernetes cluster where you only create worker nodes as ACK creates and manages master nodes
  • Serverless Kubernetes (ASK) cluster that allows you to start applications directly, and you don't need to create master and worker nodes

Docker Swarm

Docker Swarm is an orchestration tool that manages clusters of Docker containers. It is the native orchestrator of Docker. The applications can be deployed as micro-services or services in a swarm cluster.

Alibaba Cloud Container Service

Alibaba Cloud is a big cloud provider and good technology container, offering some services related to containers technology. They offer the Elastic Container Instance (ECI)(service to provide agile, secure, and serverless container management. It enables you to run containers without managing underlying servers or planning resource capacities. It also combines container technologies and serverless technologies. You can deploy and run containerized applications directly in the ECI console or call API operations to connect ECI to your existing business systems. There are many possibilities as ECI provides a hierarchical solution for Kubernetes that is integrated seamlessly into Container Service Kubernetes (ACK) and Serverless Kubernetes (ASK). This means you can connect Kubernetes to your ECI

Alibaba Cloud application container technology also provides the Container Registry service to manage and distribute cloud-native artifacts that meet the standards of the Open Container Initiative (OCI).

Why Should I Choose Containers?

Containers are lightweight, portable, and help you gather your application components, and package them together into one build artifact. This makes it easy to build, test, deploy, and redeploy applications on multiple environments from a developer’s local laptop to an on-premises data center and the cloud. Modern applications are often composed of a variety of pieces (code, dependencies, binaries, libraries, etc.), and they can be deployed to multiple different operating systems and hardware platforms easily with containers. You are sure that they will run the same, regardless of where they are deployed.

What Problem Does the Cloud Container technology Solve?

When the application computing environment changes, many problems will arise. It is possible that the developer will push the code from the development environment to the test environment before proceeding. For example, developers write application code in Windows

Conclusion

Containers are different from server virtualization in that a virtualized architecture emulates a hardware system. While each VM runs an OS in an independent environment and presents a substitute from the application to a physical machine, container applications encapsulate the files, dependencies, and libraries to run on an OS. Many vendors and clouds providers offer container platforms and container management tools. Containers are lightweight, support modern development and architecture, and are portable and platform-independent. You can decide which solution to use based on your needs, workflow, and budget.

Releted Doumention

Connect Kubernetes to Elastic Container Instance
Elastic Container Instance can be used to provide a basic runtime environment of pods for Kubernetes clusters. Other capabilities such as dependencies between business, load balancing, auto scaling, and regular scheduling must still be provided by Kubernetes.

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Cloud-Native: Best Practices for Container Technology Implementation
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Alibaba Cloud Container Service for Kubernetes (ACK)
A Kubernetes-based service that ensures high efficiency for enterprises by running containerized applications on the cloud.

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