What is a Container?
A standardised unit of software
Package Software into Standardised Units for Development, Shipment and Deployment
A container is a standard unit of software that packages up code and all its dependencies so the application runs quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another.
Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerised workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation. It has a large, rapidly growing ecosystem. Kubernetes services, support, and tools are widely available.
Let’s take a look at why Kubernetes is so useful by going back in time.
Traditional deployment era: Early on, organizations ran applications on physical servers. There was no way to define resource boundaries for applications in a physical server, and this caused resource allocation issues. For example, if multiple applications run on a physical server, there can be instances where one application would take up most of the resources, and as a result, the other applications would underperform. A solution for this would be to run each application on a different physical server. But this did not scale as resources were underutilized, and it was expensive for organizations to maintain many physical servers.
Virtualized deployment era: As a solution, virtualization was introduced. It allows you to run multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) on a single physical server’s CPU. Virtualization allows applications to be isolated between VMs and provides a level of security as the information of one application cannot be freely accessed by another application.
Virtualization allows better utilization of resources in a physical server and allows better scalability because an application can be added or updated easily, reduces hardware costs, and much more. With virtualization you can present a set of physical resources as a cluster of disposable virtual machines.
Each VM is a full machine running all the components, including its own operating system, on top of the virtualized hardware.
Container deployment era: Containers are similar to VMs, but they have relaxed isolation properties to share the Operating System (OS) among the applications. Therefore, containers are considered lightweight. Similar to a VM, a container has its own filesystem, CPU, memory, process space, and more. As they are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure, they are portable across clouds and OS distributions.
Containers have become popular because they provide extra benefits, such as:
- Agile application creation and deployment: increased ease and efficiency of container image creation compared to VM image use.
- Continuous development, integration, and deployment: provides for reliable and frequent container image build and deployment with quick and easy rollbacks (due to image immutability).
- Dev and Ops separation of concerns: create application container images at build/release time rather than deployment time, thereby decoupling applications from infrastructure.
- Observability not only surfaces OS-level information and metrics, but also application health and other signals.
- Environmental consistency across development, testing, and production: Runs the same on a laptop as it does in the cloud.
- Cloud and OS distribution portability: Runs on Ubuntu, RHEL, CoreOS, on-prem, Google Kubernetes Engine, and anywhere else.
- Application-centric management: Raises the level of abstraction from running an OS on virtual hardware to running an application on an OS using logical resources.
- Loosely coupled, distributed, elastic, liberated micro-services: applications are broken into smaller, independent pieces and can be deployed and managed dynamically – not a monolithic stack running on one big single-purpose machine.
- Resource isolation: predictable application performance.
- Resource utilization: high efficiency and density.
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