In this day and age, technology moves very quickly and, particularly since the onset of COVID-19, it has been essential for businesses to adopt new technologies to cope with the pressures they experience – pressures such as supporting remote employees, equipping them with the apps and services needed to work, migrating IT infrastructures to the Cloud, and much more.
We spoke with TechQuarters, one of the many IT Support Companies that businesses have been relying on to get their IT updated to meet the demands of remote working. They described one technology solution that has proven to be a useful answer to many of the pressures of remote working and more: Containerization.
How Does Containerization Work?
Containerization is similar in principle to Virtualization – both are used to host applications in a computer environment, such as a server, or a Cloud. But they differ by the approach they take to this goal.
The latter works as a means to create virtual versions of computer resources; for example, a storage array, a server, and even applications, or whole networks. It works by using software known as a hypervisor on a device (such as a PC or server) – the hypervisor either sits on top of an operating system, or is installed directly onto the device. It then partitions the devices, and the partitions each represent a virtual machine. IT admins can then install different operating systems onto each virtual machine. The purpose of this process is to be able to run multiple applications from different platforms on a single server or PC. So, a server can be partitioned into one Windows VM, and one Linux VM, and it could run both Windows and Linux applications simultaneously.
Containerization also enables IT admins to host multiple applications on a server or a Cloud environment, but with a different approach. The two approaches have proven to work effectively in tandem; but many people believe that containerization could replace virtualization entirely, as a more lightweight solution that places smaller demands on a server’s storage and processing power.
Containerization works by packaging an application into a container that can be run on any platform. This represents a huge advantage over the traditional approach of developers. Owing to the fact that software developed on Windows will only run on that OS, and the same with Linux, macOS, and every other platform, the process of developing an app that can be run on multiple operating systems can be a long process – developers will need to re-develop the app for each platform they want it to run on. But, developers can package their software, and all of its dependencies, into a container, and abstract it so that all of the platform-specific components are removed – without these components, the app can be installed and run on any platform.
Why use Containerization?
Containerization has been implemented quite a lot in recent years, and so we have many measured benefits of the technology. IT admins will see that containerization has a range of benefits over similar technologies, owing to the fact that it is a very lightweight and modular solution.
Portability is a huge aspect of containerization. When developers create application containers, it means they can be executed on any server or cloud environment they need it to. As we have mentioned, this is quite different to the previous approach of virtualization – unlike it, containerization does not require a version of the operating system it was developed on to run. If IT admins use virtualization to run applications from different platforms on a server, they will need to partition the server and install the different operating systems onto it – this causes a lot of storage to be taken up and, when they want to run an application, they need to also be running the operating system, which uses up processing power. On the other hand, with containerization, each container is completely independent, which means they can run on a server without the need for an operating system.
What is more, due to the fact that containers run independently, it means they aren’t reliant on anything else installed on the server or cloud environment. So, for example, if one container fails, none of the other containers you might have running will be effected at all. This has many benefits, such as making it much easier to support the server, because IT professionals don’t have to worry about anything but the container that isn’t working.
Yet another benefit for the modular nature of containers, is that they are much more secure. If one container gets infected by a virus or malware, it remains isolated within the system, and therefore it is highly unlikely that a virus or malware will be passed onto other containers. IT admins can even configure a container to limit their communication with resources that are irrelevant to their function, which could also prevent containers from interacting with viruses or malware.